The Victim
May 3, 2016 11:30 AM   Subscribe

A Marine's Convictions. "After a flawed sexual assault investigation, a Naval Academy instructor fights to prove he has done nothing wrong. But did he?" (content warning: rape)
"Too much conviction can be a dangerous thing. It certainly was for Marine Major Mark Thompson, who had a friend approach The Washington Post on his behalf, in late 2014, about Thompson’s story of how he had been wrongly accused of sexual misconduct while teaching at the US Naval Academy. Thompson claimed the Naval Criminal Investigative Service had failed him; the academy was corrupt; and, above all else, the two female midshipmen who had accused him of having sex with them, while they were his students, were lying. Thompson wanted the Post to prove his innocence. When the Post finally published his story this March, it proved something very different."
Additional Coverage
* March 15: What military law experts say could happen next in Maj. Mark Thompson’s case
* April 7: Military launches a new investigation into Marine major’s sexual misconduct case
* April 25: Naval Academy teacher is removed amid widening sexual misconduct scandal
posted by zarq (20 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite


 
Hastert levels of predatory overconfidence.

Under military law, an officer having sex with a midshipman is a crime, as is having a threesome.

I understand the rank and sex issues being very serious but the idea that having a threesome is an additional crime in the Navy is insane.
posted by srboisvert at 11:41 AM on May 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


The Uniform Code of Military Justice incorporates all kinds of stupid, morality-based sexual crimes: sodomy and adultery are the two that came to mind immediately. It hadn't occurred to me that sex with multiple partners would be a crime (as long as all participants were unmarried and it was strictly vaginal intercourse with people of your own rank, naturally!), but there you go.

(It may be that the military no longer charges consensual sodomy as a crime, but it wouldn't surprise me; I once had a client who was acquitted of forcible sodomy but convicted of consensual sodomy).
posted by MoonOrb at 11:45 AM on May 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


Honest question: I'm reading this on the train, so my reading comprehension may be off. The new issues here are sloppiness with regard to the prosecution's evidence-gathering and Thompson's apparently false statement regarding the last time he had seen Stadtler?
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:45 AM on May 3, 2016


It was at that hearing — in March 2014, at a time when the armed forces were under unprecedented pressure to eradicate an epidemic of sexual misconduct — that something remarkable happened: The board saw no proof that Thompson had done anything wrong and concluded he should not have been found guilty.

why
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 11:49 AM on May 3, 2016


why

Because bitches lie, right?

(FLAMES on the side of my face. What an asshole. Perjuring predator taking advantage of women in a subordinate position to him, and gaslighting them to save his ass when the truth comes out.)
posted by suelac at 11:52 AM on May 3, 2016 [5 favorites]


He wound up in paperwork-heavy administrative jobs instead of intelligence-related work.

Hubris.

/hubrissssssssssssssssssssss
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:58 AM on May 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


Honest question: I'm reading this on the train, so my reading comprehension may be off. The new issues here are sloppiness with regard to the prosecution's evidence-gathering and Thompson's apparently false statement regarding the last time he had seen Stadtler?

Thompson lied to a board of inquiry about having a relationship with her, about whether or not they had sexually explicit conversations, when and where they had seen each other and whether or not they'd had sex. He testified that all of his interactions with her were professional, appropriate and within Academy guidelines -- and that he was never friends with Stadler outside the rifle team. He admitted to the Washington Post reporter that he was not honest with the board and new evidence corroborates this.
posted by zarq at 12:02 PM on May 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


Sticherbeast - What zarq said, though for clarity's sake nothing that the reporter found actually objectively proves that Thompson had sex with anyone. Just that he spent time with Stadler when he said he didn't and that they exchanged exactly the sort of text messages you'd expect them to have exchanged if he was sleeping with her.

He lied about the nature of his relationship with Stadler, and made some pretty feeble excuses for why when confronted by the reporter he himself had sicced on the story. I think twists and turns is spot on with the hubris comment.
posted by Wretch729 at 12:42 PM on May 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


As someone who volunteers at the Academy (I'm Army, but I don't really give a hoot about inter-service rivalries) I've been tracking this one for a while. I'm still not sure I fully understand everything, which should be an indication of just how murky some aspects of the case are. If I had to venture an educated guess, however, I'd say it's abundantly clear that he engaged in inappropriate conduct (of a type sufficient to sink his career on that aspect alone) and lied about it repeatedly (also career-kill worthy), and I'd say that it's certainly plausible that he commuted SA, but I can't say that the latter feels beyond the legal standard of reasonable doubt.
posted by mystyk at 12:45 PM on May 3, 2016


"The Uniform Code of Military Justice incorporates all kinds of stupid, morality-based sexual crimes: sodomy and adultery are the two that came to mind immediately. "

I think the concern is typically that these sorts of "morality-based" offenses are blackmailable. You get an officer with access to intelligence information who's cheating on his spouse and is willing to pay to avoid having his marriage ruined ... you've got yourself a potential spy right there.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 12:54 PM on May 3, 2016 [7 favorites]


"It may be that the military no longer charges consensual sodomy as a crime, but it wouldn't surprise me; I once had a client who was acquitted of forcible sodomy but convicted of consensual sodomy"

There was an attempt to repeal UCMJ Article 125 altogether in 2011; the Religious Wrong once again disingenuously howled, because repealing it would have also removed the UCMJ provision against bestiality (even though that was easily covered under other provisions). The matter died at the time.

It was, however, successfully amended by section 1707 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014 (NDAA 2014) to change the statute from saying simply "sodomy" to saying "forcible sodomy."

So, no, consensual sodomy is no longer a crime under UCMJ. But only since December 26, 2013, when the amendment was signed into law.
posted by mystyk at 1:01 PM on May 3, 2016 [4 favorites]


What zarq said, though for clarity's sake nothing that the reporter found actually objectively proves that Thompson had sex with anyone. Just that he spent time with Stadler when he said he didn't and that they exchanged exactly the sort of text messages you'd expect them to have exchanged if he was sleeping with her.

Right, that's what I got out of it. I share the inference, but I was confused by what we had the smoking gun for. I had also been confused about which person Stadler was, i.e. her official stated position is that she had had a consensual sexual relationship with Thompson, whereas Thompson has categorically denied any sexual relationship with either of them.

Regardless, I don't understand why the inappropriate sexual relationship charges had ever been dropped. Like, I don't understand what the internal legal logic is even supposed to have been.

I don't doubt that there's hubris here. However, I also think that Thompson has convinced himself that what he's been saying is true. A more calculating liar would not have gotten jammed up over May 28. "They came over to pee and leave" was already quite implausible.
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:20 PM on May 3, 2016


To rephrase, it's transparent, to me and to us, that he's lying when he says that they'd never had a sexual relationship.

What the new evidence shows is that he was *demonstrably* lying 1) when he said that they barely knew him, whereas the texts show a relationship beyond even "friendship" and 2) it shows that the May 28 encounter had not only occurred, but had been planned.

Thanks for clarifying.
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:29 PM on May 3, 2016


From the footer of the April 25 article:
Read more:

A Marine fights to prove he’s innocent of sexual misconduct. Then a lost cellphone is found.

A WWII vet’s body lay unclaimed at the morgue. But his neighbors didn’t forget him.

She was found pushing her dead son on a swing. Now she lives with what she lost.

She’s 10. She has HIV. This is the moment she learns the truth.
I'm probably just being curmudgeonly but the Washington Post using click-bait style headlines makes me kind of blue.
posted by not that girl at 4:23 PM on May 3, 2016 [5 favorites]


Just when I think That Fucking Place can't surprise me any more ...
posted by haltingproblemsolved at 7:03 PM on May 3, 2016


not that girl: Those are the same one as when I read this a few days ago. Except I think there was also another one on this case in addition to the lost cellphone one. It was to do with one of the people in charge of his case facing charges related to mishandling it.
posted by Canageek at 9:57 PM on May 3, 2016


Eyebrows McGee : yes, but no. To get any kind of decent security clearance you have to go through an interview where you will be asked about all that kind of stuff - sexual stuff, how much debt you have, ever used drugs etc. With of course your clearance stripped from you if it is found out you lied at any stage.
posted by Megami at 11:02 AM on May 4, 2016


My view on what I termed "morality" provisions is that the military's justification is probably based on the concept of good order and discipline; but I think this is substantially informed by prevailing concepts of what kind of behavior is moral and what is not.

For instance, the military crime of sodomy at one point described the act as "unnatural carnal copulation with another of the same or opposite sex or with an animal," and it's hard to interpret this in any way other than reflecting a viewpoint that certain types of sex are immoral.

Adultery, on the other hand, has a much more concrete link to military good order and discipline, and if I recall correctly, in order to prove adultery as a crime, one of the elements is demonstrating some kind of effect on good order and discipline. I think the idea here is that it's bad for unit cohesion, morale, and leadership if military members are sleeping with each other's spouses. Yet, I'd still argue that this reflects a moralistic conception of sexual conduct.

I could write a much longer comment about the unfortunate intersection of these types offenses with sexual assault incidents in the military, but all I will say is that it's been pretty terrible on a number of levels, at least based on my experience.
posted by MoonOrb at 11:54 AM on May 4, 2016


Just when I think That Fucking Place can't surprise me any more ...

I know reflexive cynicism isn't a great look, but I'm not actually surprised. Disappointed, embarrassed, happy to be gradumacated and in the real world but not surprised. Not after this shitshow or this shitshow.

I know classmates, friends of mine who [told me they] were assaulted and never reported it, because why go through all that?

IHTFP.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 1:03 PM on May 4, 2016


For context: the 6,083 reported sexual assaults in the military last year resulted in 254 court-martial convictions for sexual assault.
posted by haltingproblemsolved at 10:05 AM on May 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


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