Jurors weighing fate of Osan colonel accused of affair with staff sergeant
OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea — A military jury began weighing evidence here Thursday night in the court-martial of an Air Force lieutenant colonel accused of having a sexual relationship with a female staff sergeant and pursuing an unprofessional relationship with another enlisted female.
The jury was set to resume deliberations Friday morning in the case against Air Force Lt. Col. Anthony R. Williams of the 51st Maintenance Group, charged with dereliction of duty, conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman and wrongful interference with an adverse administrative proceeding.
In closing arguments Thursday afternoon, the prosecution set before the jury box poster-boards that bore key excerpts from some sexually explicit e-mails Williams sent the two women.
Maj. Matthew Jarreau, the Pacific judicial circuit’s chief trial counsel, first read the quotes from e-mails sent to the staff sergeant.
Jarreau next put up a signboard excerpting e-mails to the enlisted female, a dental technician that included:
“Got to stomach some meetings today that I really don’t care to attend but it’s my job … talk about snoozer’s anonymous … I need a pay raise to endure more of this buffoonery.”
“How outrageous,” Jarreau told the jury of that e-mail. “A squadron commander on this base,” talking about his duties in that way with a junior enlisted airman.
In his closing argument for the defense, Williams’ civilian attorney, Frank J. Spinner, attacked the staff sergeant’s credibility.
“They gave her a promise that she won’t be court-martialed and she can say anything she wants … a license to lie,” said Spinner, of Colorado Springs, Colo.
In a case that began Monday under the rules for general courts-martial, prosecutors accused Williams of misusing a government computer and e-mail system to send messages to both women from October 2002 to June 2003. They also accused Williams of maintaining a wrongful relationship with the staff sergeant from May 26 to June 18, 2003.
And they accused Williams of later asking the staff sergeant to lie to authorities about their relationship and violating his commander’s order to refrain from further contact with the staff sergeant.
In addition, prosecutors accused Williams of acting unprofessionally by pursuing a relationship in 2002 with the dental technician, then an airman first class, contacting her by phone and e-mail.
Williams acknowledged the e-mails and other contacts but has denied an improper relationship with the enlisted woman, now a senior airman.
Williams pleaded guilty Tuesday to the dereliction of duty charge involving misuse of the computer and e-mail system, and to an improper relationship with the staff sergeant — but he has said the relationship was not sexual.
He has pleaded innocent to the other charges.
In presenting their case against Williams, prosecutors this week relied mainly on testimony from the staff sergeant, now 36, who testified under a grant of immunity. The grant means that her testimony cannot be used against her, provided she tells the truth.
And the court heard testimony from the dental technician.
She said Williams never touched her, that she never feared he’d harm her, but that she felt awkward at his attentions and mostly sought to avoid them.
The staff sergeant testified that she met Williams last Memorial Day weekend on a bus to Seoul.
Once back at Osan Air Base, the two continued the acquaintance — which, according to the staff sergeant — came to include alleged sexual trysts at Williams’ quarters here and at the Dragon Hill Lodge on Yongsan Garrison in Seoul.
Asking jurors whether the staff sergeant was “worthy of belief beyond a reasonable doubt” in her testimony about events after the no-contact order, Spinner said, “If you don’t believe her, you must find” Williams not guilty.
Williams was commander of the 51st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron here but was relieved of his command after authorities began investigating his acquaintance with the two women.
An airman in Williams’ squadron saw a printout of some of the e-mails last June and told authorities, triggering the investigation.
Among possible penalties are imprisonment and dismissal from the Air Force.
The judge in the case is Air Force Col. Anne Burman, circuit military judge for the Western Judicial Circuit in California.