HIGH DRAMA IN TEXAS COURTROOM - COLONEL
ACQUITTED ON RAPE CHARGE - FOUND GUILTY OF
"ASSAULT" AND MAKING "SEXUALLY-SUGGESTIVE"
REMARKS TO FEMALE NCO - WILL BE SENTENCED
THURSDAY AT SHEPPARD AFB - COL SAM LOFTON
FACES CERTAIN DISMISSAL FROM AIR FORCE
STILL COULD GET JAIL TIME - FORMER HEAD OF
82ND TRAINING GROUP HAD PLED GUILTY TO
LARCENY AND AWOL - FEMALE "RAPE VICTIM"
RUNS OUT OF BUILDING AFTER VERDICT READ
Take the "target" off his back! Col. Samuel Lofton won't be going to Leavenworth on a "rape" conviction after all.
The 27-year Air Force officer was acquitted of the most serious charge against him that would have meant life in prison at the DB and a possible "shank" in the back in the shower room there.
This web site felt the colonel, while guilty of numerous other crimes (such as larceny and being AWOL) did not deserve being "railroaded" to Leavenworth for the rest of his life. And that "life" might have been cut short if he'd arrived a "Mandingo-type" rapist as the prosecution and shameful OSI tried to portray him.
THE JURY SHOWED COURAGE IN DOING THE RIGHT THING
The nine member panel - seven men and two women - did find Lofton guilty of "assault" and "making sexually suggestive comments" to a female senior non-commissioned officer. He also, earlier in the court-martial, had pled guilty to 17 counts of larceny and admitted he was AWOL on at least six occasions.
That alone, will cost Lofton his career. He will undoubtedly be booted out of the Air Force without a pension and he may do anywhere from three to five years for his financial crimes. But at least he won't have to constantly look over his shoulder and fear the hopelessness of being locked up with no chance of ever obtaining freedom again.
Those of you - and our web traffic this week has been enormous - who have followed this case on MilitaryCorruption.com know that the "rape" claim against Lofton was specious on the face of it. What may have turned the tide in the jury's mind was the two times Lofton's accusers said he "assaulted" them when it was proven he wasn't even in the state of Texas at the time.
Also, the nightly 30 minute conference calls with a captain undermined the womens' contention that Lofton always pounced on them between 1700 and 1715 on weekdays.
Further complicating the rape frame up was the fact the primary accuser sent her "attacker" notes written after the alleged sexual assault saying how much she "deeply respected" the colonel and that she was "praying" for him to "weather the storm." That was when the officer only faced financial charges. What upped the ante? A corrupt OSI who wanted to tack on a "rape" charge to be sure to send Lofton away for good? Were some of the insecure "good old boy" agents envious of Lofton's ways with women? According to sworn testimony in the court-martial, they literally swarmed around him like flies.
During the trial, defense attorney Maj. Mark Etheridge showed the court e-mails in which the "victim" opined AFTER the time of the alleged rape: "I would be foolish to say I'm not interested in a promotion." Would a RAPE "victim" write that to her brutal "Mandingo" attacker, or was the accuser trying to parlay the consensual sex she had with Lofton into a career-enhancing move? We may never know.
But the woman did show she was some rattled when she ran from the courtroom after the verdict was read. We guess she didn't have any comments for reporters who might want to get a reaction. Needless to say, there will be no "book" or "movie deal" for her. Lots of "opportunities" abounded if the verdict had gone the other way.
As we used to say in Vietnam, when surveying dead VC in the wire after an early-morning assault on our position: "Close, but no cigar."
REMEMBER THE LOFTON CASE WHEN YOU THINK
YOU CAN PLAY AROUND AND GET AWAY WITH IT
What happened to Lofton should be a WARNING to all male military personnel who think they can play with fire and not get burned. At any time, you can be accused of rape and be sent to prison for life. Remember that before you start an affair with that seemingly willing secretary or female service member.
Of course if your name is Thomas J. Fiscus and you're not only a major general but the top JAG officer in the Air Force, you can count on your buddies in high places to get you off. You can have sex with a dozen women in your chain-of-command but "not to worry." With a "slap-on-the-wrist," you still get to avoid the unpleasantness of a court-martial or even an Article 32 preliminary hearing. If you're a flag officer like Fiscus, you just take a "rap-on-the-knuckles" (on-paper) bust to colonel and still retire on a fat pension, laughing all the way to the bank.
THE OLD "DOUBLE-STANDARD" OF JUSTICE
STILL PREVAILS IN TODAY'S MILITARY
As we told US NEWS & WORLD REPORT back in 2002: It's "different spanks for different ranks." The top brass get a big break while the enlisted people and junior officers are usually hammered.
Being a general officer in the U.S. military is akin to the GET OUT OF JAIL FREE card in a Monopoly game. If you're high-enough in rank, the "rules" don't apply to you.
Lofton has no one but himself to blame for ruining his nearly 30 year Air Force career. He cheated and lied and was guilty of conduct unbecoming an officer, although on the last charge, if all the officers we knew who were guilty of that were convicted, the nation's jails couldn't hold them all.
The former commanding officer of the 82nd Training Group will lose his pension and perhaps his freedom for a few years when he is sentenced Thursday. But at least he can try and pick up the pieces of his life later and move on. That sure beats constantly living in fear of being jumped at the DB.