Surprises during testimony in England sex crimes trial
May 11, 2006
RAF ALCONBURY, England — Two key witnesses came under intense scrutiny in the Article 32 hearing for a noncommissioned officer suspected of a host of sex crimes against a young girl and a woman.
First, investigator Master Sgt. Bobby Price was read his rights on the witness stand after he testified that he had given the woman a copy of his unofficial report on alleged sexual and physical abuse by Staff Sgt. Joseph Spaulding.
It’s unclear if charges will be filed in connection with the unauthorized release of the report, but lead defense attorney said he believes Price should be charged.
Spaulding is under investigation for child rape, forcible sodomy against a woman, assault and communicating a threat.
Then a crucial witness to Spaulding’s alleged acts was recalled to the stand to be requestioned about an accusation she first made Tuesday that Spaulding had raped her.
Spaulding’s defense team had been blindsided by the allegation and demanded to know more about the charge.
The witness, whom Stars and Stripes is not naming due to her status as an alleged victim of a sexual assault, took the stand and was questioned squarely by investigating officer Maj. Eric Mejia if the prosecution knew of the alleged rape prior to the start of the Article 32 hearing.
She said she could not remember.
Mejia then asked the prosecution team if it knew of the allegation.
“The government will make no disclosure,” said Lt. Col. Saritha Anjivel, of the 16th Air Force Staff Judge Advocate.
Civilian attorney Greg McCormack questioned the move, but did not accuse the prosecution of intentionally withholding the information.
“I am not saying the government did anything improper,” McCormack said after the hearing closed. “But I certainly should have been provided notice.”
Also on Wednesday, witnesses testified on the stand and by telephone, providing conflicting testimony about the key players in the trial — Spaulding, his adult accuser and the 9-year-old girl he allegedly abused who testified behind closed doors Monday.
Mejia will consider the facts before providing a recommendation to 501st Combat Support Wing Commander Col. Blake Lindner, who is expected to decide within a month if a court-martial is convened.