Soldier's career ends with conviction on sex charges
WüRZBURG, Germany — A Kitzingen-based soldier lost her Army career and will go to prison for 16 years for molesting a teenage girl in her care and prompting an overnight sex party with the girl and two of her friends.
A court-martial panel Tuesday convicted Sgt. Sharon Wolfe, 33, of the 17th Signal Battalion, of one count of forcible sodomy, two counts of sodomy, five counts of indecent acts or liberties, and one count each of impeding an investigation, malingering and making a false official statement.
Besides the prison term and a punitive discharge, the panel of three officers and four senior noncommissioned officers ordered Wolfe to forfeit all pay and be reduced to the lowest enlisted rank.
The girl, now 17, and her baby had come to live with Wolfe’s family in August 2003 after the girl’s mother — a 1st Armored Division soldier — deployed to Iraq. Wolfe and the girl’s mother had been best friends since meeting at church while stationed together six years ago at Fort Gordon, Ga.
“We were like one big family. We went to amusement parks, we did things together,” the girl testified. “[Wolfe] was like my mom and my aunt, all rolled into one.”
On April 3, the girl and two of her friends, ages 15 and 16, held a slumber party at Wolfe’s off-base house in Schwarzach, a village just north of Kitzingen.
Late that evening, the three girls were watching a movie after Wolfe, her husband and two children, and the girl’s baby all had gone upstairs to bed.
As they watched the movie, the girls testified, Wolfe came down and sat on a couch behind them wrapped in a blanket. Two of them said she wore nothing underneath.
According to the girls’ testimony, Wolfe dumped a bag of sex toys on the floor.
“She asked us ‘How are you girls going to have a slumber party if you don’t know how to have fun?’” the 16-year-old testified.
The girls said Wolfe showed the them how to use the toys.
Under cross-examination, all three said that Wolfe didn’t force them or threaten them, but they felt pressured to join in.
“I was crazed, in a way,” the 15-year-old said. “I didn’t know if I should do it or not.”
Afterward, the girls said Wolfe left and they stayed downstairs, awkwardly avoiding talking about what had happened. But the next day, they told an adult friend, who called the military police in Kitzingen and arranged for them to talk to investigators.
During questioning, the girl under Wolfe’s care said the soldier had touched her sexually several times since 1999, when the girl was 11. But she said she had never told anyone, resisted or confronted Wolfe, because of her fear of Wolfe’s harsh discipline.
The investigation also led prosecutors to charge Wolfe with malingering for missing duty for several weeks last winter.
Wolfe’s attorneys, Capt. Clint Campion and Capt. Debra Quanbeck, tried to chip away at the girls’ credibility. They pointed out inconsistencies among their testimony and statements to police. They also forced them to admit they had engaged in sexual behavior with one another a month before the slumber party.
The lawyers portrayed Wolfe as an observer to the sex party.
“Sgt. Wolfe was present when several teenagers who were curious about sex began experimenting,” Quanbeck said. “Sgt. Wolfe didn’t make anybody do anything.”
After her conviction, Wolfe wept as she apologized to the girls and thanked fellow soldiers and church members for standing by her. She said she had been abused as a child and regretted the actions that have since led to the breakup of her marriage.
“I’m the adult. I should have had sense enough not to let things happen the way they did,” she said. “Right now I’m in counseling, so I won’t ever do anything like that to anyone again.”