Major Clarence Anderson III was living what many would consider the American dream. He was a squadron commander stationed at Holloman Air Force base, was married to a special education teacher, and raising a daughter. In 2013, everything changed.
The trouble began for Anderson when he discovered his wife, Kendra, was having an affair. Anderson filed for divorce, and a bitter battle ensued for custody of their child. As the proceedings got heated, Kendra contacted military officials and accused him of sexually assaulting her. Anderson says this was retaliation for his refusal to grant her custody.
The evidence against Anderson in the subsequent sexual assault case consisted almost entirely of Kendra’s word against his. There was no physical evidence, no eyewitness testimony, and no forensics. The case was so weak that civilian law enforcement authorities declined to pursue it. Air Force prosecutors, however, forged ahead. Major Anderson submitted to a general court-martial with a single judge and was convicted in 2015. He served 42 months in the Miramar Consolidated Brig in California and was dismissed from the Air Force. He is now a registered sex offender.
Major Anderson was convicted due mainly to testimony from his ex-wife and her alleged lover. After his conviction, it was discovered that the man Anderson’s wife had an affair and later a child with, had been paid $10,000 by Kendra’s mother just prior to testifying at the court-martial. Although the Air Force lacks jurisdiction because Kendra, her new boyfriend and her mother are all civilians, they declined assistance from the FBI to investigate the payments.
After a query from Representative Martha Roby (AL), Major Anderson was awarded a rare post-trial hearing to inquire about the $10,000 payment. Testimony at the post trial hearing confirmed that the man his wife had an affair and child with, received not $10,000 but $100,000 prior to him testifying at the court martial. The mother claimed the payments were to renovate his home for her daughter and grandchildren. Shockingly, at the post-trial hearing, the Air Force judge ruled the evidence regarding the $100,000 payment would not likely have changed the outcome at trial and denied the defense motion to discuss the additional evidence.
Anderson has appealed his conviction with no success. In May 2017, a three judge military panel at the Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals (AFCCA) upheld the conviction and declined to grant a new trial. In December 2019, Anderson petitioned the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia to no avail. But Anderson isn’t stopping.
On October 6, 2020, he filed a petition in federal court asking the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to review his case. The petition asks the court to restore his rank and initiate a new trial. Anderson claims exonerating evidence was ignored and perjury was allowed in his initial trial.
In a statement to the Alamogordo Daily News, Anderson said “I pray that justice is finally served…I pray they look at the merits. They will see that there was actual perjury. They will see that the military courts abuse their discretion. I pray that they will see the many levels of command influence in my case from withholding evidence, exculpatory evidence that could prove my innocence.”
“This all stemmed from a divorce gone bad,“ he added, “I can’t even have contact with my child. The last time I saw my daughter was when she was crying, hugging my neck as they were hauling my off in handcuffs, sending me to prison. She was five at the time.”
Since his conviction, he has gone from being a decorated squadron commander with two Master’s degrees, to working at Arby’s. “I work at Arby’s now because I can’t get a job anywhere else,” Anderson said. “I was on track to be a Lieutenant Colonel, I was in command for a second time, and my whole life has been shifted upside down.”