Air Force General who Overturned Sexual Assault Conviction Says Accused was Too Good a Husband and Father to be Guilty
Lieutenant General Craig A. Franklin, commander of the Third Air Force in Europe, shocked political leaders in Washington with his decision on February 26 to overturn the sexual assault conviction of a celebrated fighter pilot, saying the defendant was just too good a husband and father to be guilty.
“Letters from Lt Col and Mrs Wilkerson’s family, friends and fellow military members,” wrote Franklin in a letter to his superiors, “painted a consistent picture of a person who adored his wife and 9-year old son, as well as a picture of a long-serving professional Air Force officer….Some letters were from people who did not personally know the Wilkersons, but wanted to convey their concerns to me about the evidence and the outcome of the case”
When the testimony of Wilkerson and his wife were in conflict, Franklin interpreted this as proof that they had not colluded in creating a cover story.
Wilkerson was convicted by an all-male jury of raping a woman while she slept in his home. He was sentenced to a year in the brig and discharged from the Air Force.
Franklin used his authority to overturn the court’s decision, which allowed the accused to return to active duty.
Members of Congress and advocacy groups have strongly criticized Franklin’s interference with the ruling, with some saying it is yet another sign of how the U.S. military refuses to take sex crimes seriously and punish those responsible.
-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky
To Learn More:
Air Force General Defends Overturning Sexual-Assault Conviction (by Craig Whitlock, Washington Post)
Memo (U.S. Air Force)
Air Force Version of Punishing Sexual Assault: No Promotion (by Matt Bewig, AllGov)
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