Officer to be jailed for inappropriate relationship
Stars and Stripes May 23, 2004
OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea — An Air Force lieutenant colonel was sentenced here Friday to a reprimand and seven months in jail after admitting to an improper relationship with a female airman and misusing government e-mail.
The military jury’s sentence came after Lt. Col. Anthony R. Williams pleaded guilty last week to carrying on an unprofessional relationship with a female staff sergeant and using a government computer and e-mail system to send personal e-mails to her and another enlisted woman — a dental technician who was an airman first class at the time.
Earlier Friday, the seven-member jury — four colonels and three lieutenant colonels — found Williams innocent of pursuing an improper relationship in 2002 with the other woman; of violating an order to refrain from contact with the female staff sergeant; and of pressuring the staff sergeant to lie to investigators about their relationship.
Had the jury opted for the maximum penalty, Williams would have faced forfeiture of all pay and allowances, a fine, two years behind bars and dismissal from the Air Force.
Instead, he’ll receive a written reprimand from Lt. Gen. Gary R. Trexler, commander of the 7th Air Force at Osan.
Williams was set to be transported Friday night to the Army Confinement Facility at Camp Humphreys, a nearby U.S. Army helicopter base.
It was not immediately determined whether he would serve his entire jail term there or be transferred to a facility in the United States, Air Force officials said.
Williams’ sentence covered a charge of dereliction of duty — for the computer and e-mail offenses — and conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman — for his relationship with the staff sergeant.
The e-mail offenses occurred between Oct. 17, 2002, and June 18, 2003, prosecutors said, while the unprofessional relationship with the staff sergeant took place from May 26 to June 18 last year.
A 20-year Air Force veteran, Williams told the court Friday he’s married and has three children — daughters ages 21 and 14, and a son, 12.
He was commander of Osan’s 51st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron last June when an airman stopped at the unit’s offices on a Saturday to use a printer.
The airman discovered a nine-page printout of some of Williams’ improper e-mails. He told authorities and an investigation ensued.
Agents with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations raided Williams’ office and seized his computer.
Williams was relieved as squadron commander and given a written order barring him from contact with the staff sergeant.
He was reassigned to the 51st Maintenance Group.
The Air Force tried Williams under its rules for general courts-martial before Air Force Col. Anne Burman, a military judge for the Western judicial circuit in California.
Throughout the five-day trial, prosecutors portrayed Williams as a senior officer who had committed “crimes of dishonor” that disgraced the Air Force and were unworthy of a military officer.
They also depicted him as a field grade officer who disregarded his official position in an unprofessional pursuit of the two enlisted women.
They showed jurors excerpts of e-mails he sent the women, some of which were sexual in nature.
Testifying under immunity, the staff sergeant, now 36, said her relationship with Williams included sexual trysts at his on-base quarters and at the Dragon Hill Lodge on Yongsan Garrison in Seoul.
Both told the court they met on a bus to Seoul last Memorial Day weekend, and continued their acquaintance at Osan.
Though he pleaded guilty to an unprofessional relationship with the staff sergeant, Williams has denied they had sex.
Maj. Matthew Jarreau, the Pacific judicial circuit’s chief trial counsel, asked the jury to sentence Williams to forfeiture of all pay and allowances and dismissal from the Air Force.
Jarreau told jurors Williams had committed “crimes of dishonor” and engaged in “inappropriate relationships that compromised [his] standing as a commanding officer.”
“What a spectacle … sending e-mail to a staff sergeant and an” airman first class, he said.
Capt. Stacey Vetter, a circuit defense counsel assigned to the Air Force government appellate division in Washington, asked jurors to exercise “mercy” in deciding Williams’ fate.
“They,” Vetter said, referring to the prosecution, “just asked you to wipe out 20 years of this man’s life … Ridiculous.”
“An appropriate sentence in this case,” Vetter said, “is forfeiture of a month’s pay — maybe two.”
Civilian attorney Frank J. Spinner of Colorado Springs, Colo., and Capt. Doug Rawald, area defense counsel from Kunsan Air Base, also represented Williams.
Capt. Karen Hennigan of Osan’s base legal office served as co-prosecutor.