Osan airman gets two years for dormitory-rape conviction
OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea — An airman on trial for the April rape of a female airman in her dorm was found guilty Friday and sentenced to two years in prison and a dishonorable discharge.
Senior Airman Calvin Wheeler Jr.’s rank also was reduced to the military’s lowest pay grade, E-1, and he must forfeit all pay and allowances. He was a member of the 51st Communications Squadron.
A six-member jury of Air Force commissioned officers handed down the verdict Friday morning and imposed sentencing Friday afternoon on one charge each of rape and adultery.
Wheeler’s general court-martial began Wednesday before Air Force Col. Steven A. Hatfield, chief judge for the 6th Judicial Circuit, out of Yokota Air Base, Japan.
Wheeler’s accuser testified the two became acquainted while serving at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., and later renewed their contact while stationed at Osan.
She testified that after a night of socializing and drinking outside Osan Air Base in April, she agreed to let him stay in her dorm room, where the rape occurred.
The defense contended the woman lacked credibility. They pointed to her testimony claiming that since joining the Air Force, she’d been raped six times. She never reported the first five, she testified, but reported the sixth, involving Wheeler. The defense also argued the woman did not resist Wheeler and had shown an interest in other men at the same time she had a boyfriend.
The prosecution’s case turned in part on testimony from an Air Force investigator that Wheeler told him he’d been drinking heavily before the incident and could not recall it. The agent also testified that Wheeler “stated that there would be no reason for her to make this up … he did state that it could have happened.”
Prosecutor Capt. Marla Gillman of Osan Air Base said Wheeler had “made a choice” not to uphold his responsibilities as a member of the Air Force.
“We’ve never heard him apologize,” she said. “He raped her and … he cheated on his wife. That’s the person we’re dealing with, a rapist and an adulterer.”
During Friday’s presentencing hearing, Wheeler sat at the defense table with a dazed expression, wiping tears with a tissue and sniffling loudly at regular intervals.
In a statement to the jury, he said, “I do not know why she would say this but I cannot change the obvious fact that we were together.”
“I did have feelings for her,” he added. “I do believe that there must be an explanation for all this.… I’m not a predator.”
Wheeler noted that as a convicted rapist, he likely would have to register as a sex offender. He said he did not know how he would find the words to explain to his sons his status as a convicted rapist.
Wheeler was transported Friday to the 8th Army Confinement Facility at Camp Humphreys.