April 11, 2013, - 3:44 pm
In Defense of Lt. Gen. Craig Franklin: Pro-Israel Airman Defamed for Moral Courage in Dismissing Shaky Rape Conviction
An Air Force General sacrifices his career and his reputation to do the right thing, and he’s pilloried for it. In rape allegations, we’re supposed to take the complaining female’s word for it and not question a thing. Especially when the woman is in the military, where feminists have wreaked much damage, and they want to wreak more (such as having us think that all male personnel are rapists in waiting).
For the past couple of months, Air Force Lt. General Craig Franklin has been under attack from the media, from Congress, from feminists, and from everybody else for overturning a rape conviction (technically, aggravated sexual assault) against Lt. Col. James Wilkerson. Wilkerson was convicted in a November court martial of sexually assaulting a female officer. In civilian trials, a judge often has the power to issue a judgment notwithstanding the jury’s verdict. And in the military, commanders have the final say. It’s a vital part of the system of military justice. Lt. Gen. Franklin could have taken the easy way out and rubber-stamped the guilty verdict against Wilkerson. Instead, he did the right thing and listened to his conscience. He didn’t believe the alleged victim and her constantly changing story of the alleged rape. So, in February, he dismissed the conviction.
Since then, there have been Congressional hearings against him, media witch-hunts and savaging of his reputation, and everything else that comes with going against the conventional feminist tide in the military. It cost Franklin a promotion, and his military career is likely static until he retires, something he probably predicted. He clearly didn’t do this lightly. He’s a good man who had the courage and integrity to do what most would not. Predictably, Defense Secretary Chuck “Bleep the Jewish Lobby” Hagel has re-opened the case, when he should be recognizing Lt. Gen. Franklin’s guts and principles. Which man would you want by your side on the battlefield? And I wonder if Lt. Gen. Franklin’s history of being pro-Israel and working with Israeli generals has anything to do with the savaging of his good name. Don’t bet against it.
An Air Force general who dismissed a sexual-assault conviction against an officer said he didn’t find the alleged victim’s statement credible, in the most thorough explanation of his decision in a case that has raised controversy on Capitol Hill. In a six-page letter, Lt. Gen. Craig Franklin said he dismissed the aggravated sexual-assault conviction against Lt. Col. James Wilkerson in February after an extensive review of court records and evidence. Lt. Col. Wilkerson was originally convicted in a military court-martial in November.
“It would have been exceedingly less volatile for the Air Force and for me professionally, to have simply approved the finding of guilty,” Lt. Gen. Franklin wrote. “This would have been an act of cowardice on my part and a breach of my integrity.”
The case has prompted the Pentagon to recommend revising the provisions of the Uniform Code of Military Justice to strip commanders of the ability to vacate military-court convictions, although they would still be allowed to commute sentences. Frank Spinner, a lawyer for Lt. Col. Wilkerson, said Lt. Gen. Franklin was doing his job of ensuring due process. “Anyone who reads the record of trial will see the complaining witness was not credible,” Mr. Spinner said. “The government failed to prove their case.”
Defense officials said Lt. Gen. Franklin’s decision to dismiss the conviction has likely eliminated any chance of promotion and has made it difficult for him to get other military jobs, as appointments of all senior generals must be approved by the Senate. Several members of the Senate Armed Services Committee have criticized his actions. . . .
Lt. Col. Wilkerson was accused of assaulting the woman while she slept in a guest room in his home after a party. In the letter, Lt. Gen. Franklin outlined why he found the account of Lt. Col Wilkerson and his wife more credible than the victim’s statement. He said that the victim’s description of the events leading up to the assault varied and she wasn’t able to identify the room in which the alleged assault took place.
Lt. Gen. Franklin said he found the version of events presented by prosecutors “incongruent” with the fact that Lt. Col. Wilkerson was selected for promotion and was “described as a doting father and husband.” “When I considered all the evidence together in total, the evidence was not sufficient to prove this alleged version by the prosecution beyond a reasonable doubt,” Lt. Gen. Franklin said.
Franklin’s memo lists 18 points that led to his decision to overturn the guilty verdict, saying he struggled with the difficult case and spent three weeks reviewing tapes, testimony and dozens of letters submitted in support of Wilkerson. In the end, he said, “I could not in good conscience let stand the finding of guilty.” Among the problems he found with the verdict, Franklin said:
* The victim turned down three offers of a ride and seemed to have differing reasons why she wanted to stay
* The victim had trouble identifying and describing parts of the house, didn’t remember the attacker’s mustache and didn’t correctly describe her path out of the house
* Wilkerson’s wife’s account of the events differed in some details from her husband’s, but Franklin said the conflicts suggested that the two didn’t collude on a manufactured story.
* Testimony from the friend who took the alleged victim to the hospital the next day was not admissible in court, but Franklin said it indicated there could be a reason the woman might be less than candid.
We are privileged to have a few good men like Lt. Gen. Franklin spending their careers in the service of our country. Sadly, when they do the right thing–when they exercise the powers granted to them and exert moral courage–they are torn apart. If only we attacked the O.J. Simpson and Casey Anthony juries this much. Instead, Missouri Democrat Senator Claire McAskill, who has been on a witch hunt and crusade against Franklin, asked the Pentagon to fire him, undermining the military justice system. Bob McCarty has more.
A friend of mine who was in the Air Force for decades recently retired instead of staying in to reach a higher rank. He said he no longer wanted to deal with the political correctness that has taken over the U.S. Armed Forces. The attacks on Lt. Gen. Franklin is exactly the kind of stuff he was talking about.
Forget legitimate opposition research by Sen. Mitch McConnell into Ashley Judd’s publicly available wacko views. What’s happening to Lt. Gen. Franklin is the real politics of personal destruction. It’s yet another sign of a weak and ever-weakening America, with a military in the same shape to boot.
This is how we treat those who serve our country with decency and honor. Sadly, it’s par for the course these days.
Tags: aggravated sexual assault, Air Force, Article 60, Chuck Hagel, Courts Martial, false rape accusations, false rape charges, Feminism, feminism in the miliary, feminists, Israel, Lt. Col. James Wilkerson, Lt. Gen. Craig Franklin, Military Justice system, pro-Israel, pro-Israel generals, rape, rape allegations, rape cases, Sen. Claire McAskill, system of military justice, U.S. Armed Forces