Tag Archives: Green Beret

Soldiers Experience Vastly Different Court-Martial Outcomes

After comparing the outcomes of two Army court-martial cases that took place in Stuttgart, Germany, in recent years, I can’t help but smell a rat in the military justice system.

This image shows the front of the hotel in Stuttgart where the alleged crimes involving Stewart took place.

This image shows the front of the hotel in Stuttgart where the alleged crimes involving Stewart took place.

One case involved Staff Sgt. Justin Wolfschlag, a military police dog handler who, according to a Stars and Stripes article Thursday, was found guilty of maltreatment of a subordinate but not guilty of a sexual assault charge stemming from his accuser’s claim that he made her perform oral sex on him. Members of the court-martial panel acquitted Wolfschlag on the more serious charge after Wolfschlag’s defense team maintained the oral sex and exposure never happened and argued there was no physical evidence presented to support the allegations.

Sergeant Wolfschlag was sentenced Thursday to 60 days’ hard labor and busted down two pay grades but, it appears, will be allowed to remain in the Army.

The other case involved Sgt. 1st Class Kelly A. Stewart, a highly-decorated combat veteran and member of the elite Green Berets, who was accused in November 2008 of rape and kidnapping by a then-28-year-old German woman. Despite the lack of any physical evidence or witnesses and his accuser’s refusal to provide her mental health records — including details of her four-month stay in a psychiatric care facility — to the court, he was found guilty on several sexual assault-related charges, but not rape or kidnapping. Most importantly, he never admitted guilt to any of the charges against him.

Sergeant Stewart was stripped of his Special Forces tab and sentenced to eight years in prison. His stellar career as a combat medic and Level One sniper was brought to a halt by unproven charges, Stewart now lives as a convicted sex offender, based largely on the testimony of a German woman who, according to three of her friends who testified during a post-trial hearing, lied repeatedly on the witness stand during the court-martial.

My very-informed opinion is that Sergeant — err, wait — Private Wolfschlag got off easier than Stewart, largely because: (1) he was not an SF Soldier facing a court-martial panel made up of non-SF Soldiers who had recently served a deployment with the lead prosecutor as their legal officer; and (2) his accuser was an American instead of a German national who could not be held accountable by the military court for anything she said — or didn’t say — on the witness stand and could not be compelled to provide her mental health records to the court.

Of course, there is a lot more to Stewart’s story.

To read other posts about Stewart’s case, click here.

To understand the case fully, order a copy of my first nonfiction book, Three Days In August.

Click on image above to order Bob's books.

Click on image above to order Bob’s books.

Post-Trial Statement Should Have Netted Soldier New Trial

Based solely on the post-trial statement made by a woman who knew Army Sgt. 1st Class Kelly A. Stewart’s accuser better than anyone, one would think the highly-decorated Green Beret combat veteran should, at a minimum, have received a new trial.  But he did not.

Kelly A. Stewart is one of the Green Berets shown in this undated unit photo.

Kelly A. Stewart is one of the Green Berets shown in this undated unit photo.

Stewart’s then-28-year-old accuser, Greta Heinrich (not her real name), alleged in November 2008 that he had raped and kidnapped her during a night spent together almost three months earlier.  During three days in August 2009, Stewart was convicted by a court-martial panel of multiple offenses against the German woman and sentenced to eight years confinement at the U.S. Military Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

Soon after his conviction, individuals whom Stewart did not know began to come forward and make statements against his accuser.  One of those statements appears below:

The first statement came from Tamara Buehler, Heinrich’s former roommate, supervisor at her place of employment and close friend of 11 years:

Statement of Tamara Buehler. On 15 November 2009, the defense first learned that a friend of the alleged victim had what was purported to be important information. While I was attending the annual fall Trial Defense conference, Ms. Tamara Buehler met with me and provided me with information which called into question the mental sanity of Ms. Heinrich. She faxed a statement to me the following week which was translated on 25 NOV 2009. In her statement, Ms. Buehler states that the alleged victim related to her that she was previously diagnosed with BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder).  Ms. Buehler also related that in her “very close contact with Greta [the alleged victim] I very often noticed that her sense of perception is very warped at times. Situations that can be substantiated by facts are described by her from a totally different point of perception.” Ms. Buehler also points out numerous incidents that directly contradict Ms. Heinrich’s testimony:

A) Ms. Buehler reports receiving a text message from Ms. Heinrich on 23 August 2008 in which Ms. Heinrich described a lecherous night, where she “found my master.” Ms. Buehler took this to mean that there was sex of the sadomasochist type and noted that there was no talk of something happening that Heinrich did not like.

Ms. Buehler states further that Ms. Heinrich claims that her encounter with SFC Stewart was “great SEX.”

CONTRAST – Ms. Heinrich’s text message and description of great sex directly contradicts her testimony at trial where she stated that she knew she was raped while she was still in the hotel room. As Ms. Heinrich put it, “I thought that he raped me. I felt it.”

(B) Ms. Buehler states that “[u]pon leaving she [Ms. Heinrich] furthermore gave him her cell phone number; she was very eager to see whether he would call her.”

CONTRAST – During trial, Ms. Heinrich gave the impression that she wrote down her cell phone number unwillingly and changed it because she was scared. In her testimony she claimed that SFC Stewart told her, “[y]ou will write down your cell phone number, and the right one; otherwise, you’re not leaving”. She went on to state that she wrote down the correct number because she would have done anything to get out of the room. In response to a question about what she did with her cell phone number, she stated that she had it changed so that no one could call her anymore. These statements are a far cry from Ms. Buehler’s observations that she was eager to see whether SFC Stewart would call her.

(C) Testifying during the sentencing portion of trial, Ms. Heinrich stated that she is scared to be with people, scared to be with men, and scared to be with Soldiers. She went on to state that she has “no contact with men anymore.” In answering a question posed by the prosecution regarding whether she engaged in any dating relationships with any men since the attack, Ms. Heinrich responded “no.”

CONTRAST – In her statement, Ms. Buehler relates how Ms. Heinrich met with a teacher in the woods to have sex sometime between 13 to 15 July 2009, one month prior to the trial. Ms. Heinrich also had sex with another man sometime between 10 and 15 August 2009, shortly before the trial. She further describes how Ms. Heinrich had a crush on a friend between July and September and how she fell in love with a neighbor at the end of June. Each of these encounters prior to trial directly contradicts her testimony regarding her fear of men and her lack of relations with men since her encounter with SFC Stewart.

Combined with other information in the clemency package, the statement above likely influenced Brig. Gen. Steven L. Salazar’s decision to reduce Stewart’s prison sentence from eight years to three and enable the soldier to gain early release from prison.  But it didn’t convince the general to remove the “sexual offender” label he will have to carry with him the rest of his life if justice remains out of reach or to grant him the new trial he deserves.  And that, my friends, is a shame.

More incredible details of Stewart’s court-martial, conviction, sentencing and beyond can be found inside the book, Three Days In August: A U.S. Army Special Forces Soldier’s Fight for Military Justice.

To read other posts about Three Days In August, click here.

Click on image above to order Bob's books.

Click on image above to order Bob’s books.