Flight surgeon found guilty of raping civilian
KUNSAN AIR BASE, South Korea — An Air Force flight surgeon faces possible dismissal and life in prison after being found guilty Thursday of raping a civilian worker in her dorm room after she took a sleeping pill.
After five hours of deliberation, the six-member court-martial jury found Maj. Mark Seldes guilty of rape, conduct unbecoming to an officer and a gentleman, and adultery in connection with the Nov. 4, 2006, attack. Seldes pleaded not guilty to all charges when the case began Monday and did not testify in the case.
According to court testimony, Seldes and the civilian employee met about a week before the attack at a dinner party at his dorm. She said she told him she was suffering side effects from taking the sleeping medication Ambien.
During the week, they started a relationship that included kissing and oral sex, though the woman, who is not being named to protect her identity, said she declined Seldes’ request for sex three or four times.
She said she invited Seldes to her room on Nov. 4 to watch television. She told Seldes she was taking an Ambien, then sat on her couch and began to rub his sore shoulder.
She said the next thing she remembered was waking up in her bed with Seldes on top of her and having sex with her. The woman said she was groggy because of the Ambien and immediately fell back asleep. Experts testified that the two glasses of wine and half-bottle of beer she said she had earlier that night could have magnified the medicine’s sedative effect.
In pre-sentencing testimony Thursday, the woman said she lost nearly all of her friends and constantly worried about running into Seldes during her nine months at Kunsan after the rape.
“The hostility got so bad that by the time I left, people would walk by as if I wasn’t there,” she said. Seldes’ version of what happened that night spread quickly at the tiny base, which has about 3,000 residents, but the woman said she couldn’t talk about it because of the impending court-martial.
Seldes was ordered not to contact her and was moved into another dorm building that shared a parking lot with hers. But the woman said she worried about going to the medical clinic where Seldes worked, worried that he had access to her medical files, and refused to go to the base exchange alone because she was afraid of seeing him.
She still worries that Seldes could see her medical records, but she said her life has improved since she left South Korea.
“I didn’t have to be afraid of seeing him all the time,” she said. “I didn’t have to be afraid of flight suits. I couldn’t tell from a distance if it was him or someone else.”
She said she still has nightmares from the attack, most frequently about being raped and trying to yell ‘no’ but can’t.
“Sometimes I wake up screaming ‘no,’” she said.
The defense was scheduled to question character witnesses for Seldes on Friday before the jury begins deliberating his sentence.
The all-male jury is composed of officers from Osan Air Base. Because of Kunsan’s small size, Lt. Gen. Stephen Wood, 7th Air Force commander, ordered the panel to come from Osan so the jury would have no prior knowledge of the case.