HE BEAT THE ODDS! - U.S. ARMY EUROPE
BRIGADE SERGEANT MAJOR ACQUITTED
ON ALL SEX CHARGES - "NOT GUILTY" VERDICT
STUNS COURTROOM IN MANNHEIM, GERMANY
CMD SGT MAJ GARY TULL WEEPS AFTER COURT-
MARTIAL PANEL CLEARS HIM ON SEX ASSAULT,
FRATERNIZATION, ADULTERY CHARGES
ACCUSER'S CLAIMS SHOT DOWN BY DEFENSE
ATTORNEY GUY WOMACK - DNA EVIDENCE PLUS
"INCONSISTENT" TESTIMONY UNDERMINED CASE
It looked bad, very bad (see "related stories box" at end of this article), for the top NCO of the NATO Brigade in Europe. Command Sgt. Maj. Gary Tull was accused of sexual assault, fraternization, maltreatment and adultery. He faced the end of his Army career and a possible stretch in Leavenworth.
But Tull's civilian attorney, Guy Womack, worked his magic and shot enough holes in the "victim's" story, a court-martial panel of six soldiers - three sergeant majors, two field-grade and one warrant officer - found the embattled E-9 innocent of all charges. The shock of the result could be heard in the Mannheim, Germany courtroom as Tull shouted for joy, then wept at the news. He had indeed dodged a bullet.
TOP-RANKING ENLISTED MAN ADMITS SEX, BUT SAYS IT "CONSENSUAL"
The irony of the verdict was underlined by the fact that DNA that matched the sergeant major was discovered on the female enlisted woman's underwear. Tull admitted to investigators that he'd had sexual contact with the SPC E-4, but claimed it was entirely "consensual." Her "inconsistent" story and contradictions, plus court testimony that the accuser willingly pulled up her shirt to reveal a set of tattoos, damaged her credibility and undermined the prosecution's case.
They wanted to paint a picture of a scheming senior NCO, using alcohol and sweet talk to cajole a "timid" low-ranking enlisted female into submitting to his wanton sexual advances. It just didn't work.
Womack demolished the soldier's "innocent wallflower" image by shooting holes in her confused and conflicting testimony. The defense lawyer told the court panel the enlisted woman had invited Tull to her room; that she danced provocatively in front of him and joined in downing drinks that she allegedly eagerly shared.
Tull was able to get a long list of character witnesses who testified as to the E-9's good reputation and "concern for his soldiers."
In an unusual twist, Tull - Womack said - felt remorse about drinking with the young woman and couldn't "complete" the sex act. As for being guilty of "adultery," a big NO-NO in the military when the brass want to use it to hammer or punish someone, it's usually as good as money in the bank. But the prosecution was inept, like "the gang that couldn't shoot straight."
While the 50 year-old Tull is a married man today, he was not at the time of the alleged offense last year. Therefore the "adultery" charge went nowhere. The JAG should have done their homework. But it's awfully tempting to pile on a litany of charges, the more the better, if you're trying for a high-profile conviction. In this case, the JAG came out looking like fools, and a very lucky sergeant major can say he "beat the odds."