Kunsan officer not guilty of rape, but could be discharged
KUNSAN AIR BASE, South Korea — Capt. David T. “Tom” Still was found not guilty of rape, attempted rape and disorderly conduct during a court-martial at the Kunsan courtroom Thursday.
However, he still faced sentencing and potential dismissal from the Air Force for pleading guilty to violating a general order by having sex with an enlisted female at the Dragon Hill Lodge.
Military judge Lt. Col. Eric Dillow said he would announce the sentence Friday morning.
Still, a 35th Fighter Squadron F-16 pilot, faced charges that he raped a female officer and attempted to rape another officer on separate occasions in his barracks room at Kunsan Air Base.
He also was on trial for allegedly vandalizing and causing disturbances at Yongsan Garrison’s Dragon Hill Lodge in Seoul the night of Jan. 1, 2006 — the night he also engaged in sex with the enlisted female.
Still’s parents and friends kissed and hugged each other in joy after the reading of the verdict, while the alleged rape victim broke down in tears on the other side of the courtroom.
The female captain, who was a lieutenant when the incident occurred the night of April 20, 2006, testified that she began saying “no” repeatedly when Still turned her over in his bed. She then pushed at his hips to stop him, she said.
“Under the law, she did what was required of her,” prosecutor Maj. Jeffrey Ferguson said in his closing statement. “She manifested her lack of consent and she tried to get him off of her.”
Still’s lawyer, retired Lt. Col. Frank Spinner, did not concede that sexual penetration occurred, However, he told the judge that if it did happen, the act did not constitute rape.
Spinner then noted the woman’s differing testimony during the trial and previous investigations. Among other things, she had not stated that she told Still “no” before penetration in a previous interview, as she did at the trial, Spinner said.
“If you can’t trust her memory on those things, how can you trust her memory that she even said ‘no’ at all?” Spinner asked during his closing argument.
Both force and lack of consent are necessary to convict a rape defendant, according to instructions given to juries by the Staff Judge Advocate office.
Spinner said that if Still and the female captain had sex, she may have consented until changing her mind at “the moment of truth.” Still is not guilty if he mistakenly believed she consented, Spinner said.
In the alleged attempted rape of a female lieutenant for which Still was tried, consent also was at issue.
Spinner said there was reasonable doubt that Still had intent to rape the lieutenant in January 2006 because the two had previously agreed to a physical relationship with no sex. Still’s failed attempt to escalate the relationship was “human nature,” Spinner said.
Ferguson, however, said Still’s “four or five attempts” proved that he was trying to force himself upon the lieutenant.