Proving Sexual Assault Allegations

While we are in the midst of the national hysteria over sexual assault in the military, there does not seem to be much room being left for skepticism. It is now assumed that everyone who reports that he or she was sexually assaulted in the military must be telling the truth. I know that's not true. I have represented service members accused of sexual assault in hundreds of cases. Many times it turns out that the alleged victim invented the story for other reasons.

However, there is no time to consider that some allegations might be false. We are too busy panicking. Take the case of Trina McDonald. She delivered a petition signed by over 100,000 people demanding that cases of sexual assault in the military be handled by civilian courts. Ms. McDonald claims that she was sexually abused in the military 20 years ago. But, what are her actual allegations? She claims that she was "repeatedly drugged, raped and ultimately dumped into the Bering Sea by superior officers." Thrown into the Bering Sea? That is quite an outlandish claim. And, it took 20 years to come forward after being thrown into the Bering Sea?

I don't know if Trina McDonald's claims are true or not. The point is that none of us do other than Ms. McDonald and her superior officers 20 years ago. In our rush to judge the military for allowing a culture of sexual assault maybe we should take a step back and not necessarily believe every outlandish claim of abuse. We will never get the actual truth until we are willing to withhold judgment until we know the facts.

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