Monday, October 28, 2013

Sexual Assault At Coast Guard Academy, The Webster Smith Case Chap 6


Go Straight To Jail

A kangaroo court is a proceeding that denies proper procedure in the name of expediency. It is a fraudulent or unjust trial where the decision has essentially been made in advance, usually for the purpose of providing a conviction. It is also an elaborately scripted event intended to appear fair while having the outcome predetermined from the start. It is a show trial with a reasonable outcome.
As in the case of Webster Smith, it is conducted largely in the open. An accounting of private conduct is done in public. The proceedings appear to be fair, and the sentence is apparently legitimate. The convening authority goes out of its way to be open and fair, but it is nothing more than a show trial. It results in a judicial lynching; such as, Stalin's kangaroo trials of his "enemies", and the Romanian military court which sentenced Nicolae Ceausescu to death.
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court William o. Douglas once wrote, "[W]here police take matters in their own hands, seize victims, beat and pound them until they confess, there cannot be the slightest doubt that the police have deprived the victim of a right under the Constitution. It is the right of the accused to be tried by a legally constituted court, not by a kangaroo court" (Williams v. United States, 341 U.S. 97, 71 S. Ct. 576, 95 L. Ed. 774 [1951]).
After his kangaroo court-martial, former Cadet Webster Smith was taken to the U.S. Navy brig at the Submarine Base in Groton, Connecticut on 28 June 2006.
He should have been granted an 8 day deferment of the sentence. This is normally a routine thing. However, this was not a routine case, by any means. Even the vilest military convicted offender is given some time alone with his family to say good-bye. Webster Smith was not. Webster waited in a secure room under double security guards while his written Request for Deferment was presented to Admiral James Van Sice. The Admiral sat in his ivory tower with Commander Sean Gill, his military advisor, and drank coffee. Then he summarily denied the routine request without any justification whatsoever. This has never been done before. Admiral Van Sice received bad advice from his legal advisor.

As soon as Van Sice's signature was on the denial order, two flat-footed agents from the Coast Guard Investigative Service (CGIS) ordered Cadet Smith's parents to vacate the premises. Mild mannered Webster Smith was handcuffed and paraded up and down the corridor like Jesus being paraded between Caiaphas and Pontius Pilate for all the rabble to gawk and marvel. Poor Webster Smith was made a spectacle. Thoroughly humbled and suitably constrained, he was offered for inspection to KN and SR, the two principal witnesses against him. Then, still in handcuffs, he was paraded in front of the news media for a photo opportunity. This was cruel and inhuman punishment. This was truly a new low even for the likes of James Van Sice. This single act more so than preferring groundless charges shows clearly the character of Admiral James Van Sice. His actions indicated that he was not only a racist, and a bigot, but he was also just plain mean spirited.
Originally he was supposed to be transferred on 10 July to a Federal prison for military officers in South Carolina. It did not happen. Admiral Van Sice delayed signing off on the Report of the Court-martial. The delay was not explained. Then plans were to transfer him to the South Carolina prison on 19 July.
Commandant Instruction M5350.4B, The Civil Rights Manual, required the Academy Civil Rights Officer to attempt to resolve informally any civil rights complaint within 5 days of receiving it. Jo Ann Miller, the Academy Civil Rights Officer, planned to retire on 28 July.

To expect this travesty of justice to have a positive effect upon the Coast Guard Academy is tantamount to asking for good fruit to come from a poisonous tree. It will not happen. It will not result in gender equality. It will not make female cadets take responsibility for their own actions. It will not result in more female staff officers at the Academy. Having a female Commandant of Cadets is nice but it is little more than window dressing. It will not turn female coeds at a secular college into female cadets or future Coast Guard officers. It will not cause the Coast Guard to change its policy on releasing the statistics they keep on the number of reported sexual assaults on base.
All of the other military academies have released their statistics on sexual assaults reported. The public has access to those statistics. The Coast Guard has not released the number of assaults reported, or how they were disposed of. There have been many, up to and during the time Webster Smith was in pre-trial confinement. All of the others have been quietly disposed of. From 1993 until the spring semester of 2005, the Coast Guard had confirmed only 10 reported incidents of sexual misconduct, according to information provided by the Coast Guard Academy to the Navy Times. Of those, six incidents resulted in dismissal of the accused and two ended in resignation. In the remaining two cases, there was insufficient evidence to pursue charges. The Coast Guard Academy had 982 students, nearly 30 percent of whom were women at that time.

Only Webster Smith has been persecuted and then prosecuted to the fullest extent possible under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So far, we have only heard of the most exceptional cases that get reported in the media. The Coast Guard guards its sexual assault statics like the nuclear missile launch codes. It is arguable whether they would release the statistics pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act Request (FOIA). Of course, they would be subject to a subpoena as part of discovery in a discrimination law suit. Or the NAACP Legal Defense, Inc Fund or the Department of Justice could just ask for them. Now that U.S. Representative Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., has proposed a federal review of the Coast Guard Academy's sexual assault policies and the Government Accounting Office (GAO) is taking closer cognizance of the Coast Guard Academy, I am sure that they will keep a close eye on the statistics.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sean Gill is now a member of the Coast Guard Court of Criminal Appeals. The judges may be commissioned officers or civilians. The Court is currently constituted as follows:
Chief Judge Lane I. McClelland
Judge Patrick J. McGuire
Judge John F. Havranek
Judge Kathleen A. Duignan
Judge Andrew J. Norris
Judge Sean P. Gill
Judge John S. Luce
Judge Peter J. Clemens.

9:00 PM  

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