The Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals (CCA) recently deemed Colonel Wilson’s child sex abuse conviction to be factually insufficient, with a focus on inconsistent testimonies from the six-year-old child who alleged the abuse. Not only did the CCA question the validity of the conviction, but it did so with multi-thousand-word opinion piece rarely seen before in terms of volume and scrutiny. Could the CCA’s input on the case affect the conviction and, therefore, similar cases in the future?
U.S. V. WILSON QUESTIONS KEY EVIDENCE BROUGHT FORTH BY CHILDREN
In a rare move, the CCA provided an enormous 57-page and unanimous opinion piece — which you can view in full by clicking here — to discuss why Wilson’s conviction of child sex abuse should be deemed “factually insufficient.” To the end of that argument, it essentially states that Wilson’s conviction should not stand since it is founded entirely on the statements of a child.
Within the opinion, the CCA judges put a spotlight on the testimonies provided by the child who alleged Wilson had abused her. They determined that there was no discernible solid evidence brought forth in the testimonies due to inconsistencies throughout them all. As such, “guilt beyond a reasonable doubt” is impossible to establish, argues the CCA. Guilt is feasible, but not to the extent that should be required to convict someone of such a severe criminal act.
As is typical in child sex abuse cases, the prosecution argued that a child’s memory can become clouded by the trauma of abuse, and so there will be some margin of inconsistency. Yet the CCA argued the child’s statements were so varied and undescriptive of actions that constituted an illegal act that no reasonable stretch of the imagination could “fill the gaps” in the testimonies to reach a logical conviction. Even statements from expert witnesses, including child psychologists, could not account for the severe lack of clarity and consistency.
The CCA also pointed at other bits of so-called evidence brought forth by the prosecution in U.S. v. Wilson. Again, the unanimous court held that none of the evidence was strong enough to “overcome the infirmities in [the child’s] statements.” The complete lack of other witnesses to the alleged abuse, physical evidence capable of expert analysis, and admissions of guilt tipped the case entirely towards the defense’s favor. At the very least, it strengthened the defendant’s presumption of innocence, which arguably was overlooked in this case.
The opinion concluded with an admission that child testimonies are inherently shaky due to the memory, language skills, and situational comprehension of a six-year-old. Rather than this natural difficulty being used to favor the prosecution, though, it is argued it should be turned to favor the defense. In other terms, if theonly possible evidence of child sex abuse are words from the child themselves, then there may as well be no evidence at all, especially when inconsistencies run rampant.
DO NOT COMPROMISE WHEN YOUR FUTURE IS JEOPARDIZED
Have you been accused of a serious sex crime? The takeaway you need to know from Wilson’s case is that the prosecution will stop at nothing to secure a conviction, even when they know there is no real evidence to support the accusations. The CCA may question the conviction later, but the key to protecting your reputation and military career is doing all you can to prevent a conviction in the first place.
Come to Attorney Joseph Jordan for uncompromising, highly-experienced military criminal defense representation. He and his team have spent years standing up for accused military service members across the globe and from all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces. It is their honor and passion to be legal defenders for the brave men and women who defend our country.
Put a proud fighter in your corner today. Call (866) 624-7503 or contact his firm online.