Junior officer pleads guilty, gets jail time for assaulting ex-girlfriend
By AARON KNOWLES | STARS AND STRIPES Published: January 16, 2019
WIESBADEN, Germany — A Georgia National Guard first lieutenant pleaded guilty to assaulting a German ex-girlfriend and was sentenced by a military judge to 60 days confinement on Wednesday.
First Lt. Nicholas M. Roberts, who was serving as a U.S. Army Europe battle captain at the time of the assault in October 2017, apologized during a court-martial at Clay Kaserne in Wiesbaden.
“She is someone I cared for and I was never raised to touch a woman,” he said. “I am supposed to set an example as an officer, and I failed to do that.”
Roberts admitted during the proceedings to pushing the woman during an argument. Roberts said the woman tripped on a rug and fell into a wall face-first after he pushed her. He was under the influence of alcohol at the time, he said.
More than 190 pages of WhatsApp messages and text messages were presented by prosecutors as evidence of an abusive relationship.
The prosecution said Roberts had a prior history of threatening behavior, citing a 911 call by another former girlfriend in Georgia in 2016, in which the woman said Roberts had turned off the power in her home and was possibly armed.
In telephone testimony, however, the ex-girlfriend in Georgia, who Roberts married sometime after the 2017 assault, denied the accuracy of a police record of the incident.
The prosecution read a victim impact statement in which the woman said the 2017 assault was sparked by Roberts’ jealousy. He was drunk and became angry when she got a text message. The soldier took the phone, forced her to unlock it and began trying to read the messages, but couldn’t because they were written in German, she said in the statement.
When the woman attempted to get her phone back, Roberts pushed her into the wall, knocking her out, she said. She was later diagnosed with a concussion and related head trauma, a Wiesbaden medical official testified.
The assault made her fearful of Roberts and afraid to go out in public, she said.
In addition to 60 days confinement, military judge Col. Christopher Fredrikson ordered forfeiture of $2,000 in pay.
Roberts’ assignment at USAREUR was supposed to last just six months, but his stay in Europe was extended by more than a year while his case worked its way through the legal system.
“I just want to go home and take care of my wife and daughter,” Roberts said. “I should have just walked away.”