Stuttgart soldier found not guilty of rape
STUTTGART, Germany — A 25-year-old soldier who said he had consensual sex with a German woman was found not guilty on Tuesday of raping her.
Spc. Clifford W. Sneed, a systems analyst with 587th Signal Company, 52nd Signal Battalion, had previously pleaded guilty to smoking marijuana with the woman. He was awaiting sentencing on that charge as of press deadline on Tuesday.
He could be sentenced to up to two years in jail and discharged from the Army.
Sneed was spared a possible life sentence when the seven-member military panel found reasonable doubt that Sneed forced the woman to have sex. At least five jurors had to vote guilty for Sneed to be convicted.
After the verdict, Sneed wiped tears from his face on the witness stand as he told the panel, which would decide his sentence, that he wanted to stay in the Army. Sneed said he believed he could be rehabilitated.
“I’m willing to do whatever it takes,” Sneed said.
Sneed admitted that he was at times a binge drinker during his off days while working shifts of three-days-on, three-days-off. He said he had been participating in the Army’s substance abuse program since his arrest in February.
“Everyone deserves a second chance,” Sneed said, when asked why he should be allowed to stay in the Army despite his marijuana conviction.
According to testimony, Sneed and his accuser rendezvoused at the woman’s apartment during the early morning hours of Feb. 24 after a night of drinking vodka and Red Bull and other beverages at two Stuttgart night clubs.
The woman, who had known Sneed for almost two years, and with whom he’d had a previous sexual relationship, invited him to her apartment to smoke marijuana, according to testimony.
As they were lying together on a sofa-bed, both intoxicated from alcohol and marijuana, Sneed progressively came on to the woman and eventually forced her to have sex despite her repeated rejections, the woman testified.
Sneed initially told an Army investigator during a two-hour interview that he had gone directly home that night, but later changed his story and admitted he smoked marijuana with the woman. He then told the investigator that the two had consensual sex that the woman initiated.
Sneed then took several more hours writing a statement, which he signed, with his version of events.