Based solely on the post-trial statement made by a woman who knew the accuser of Army Special Forces Sgt. 1st Class Kelly A. Stewart better than anyone, one would think that the highly-decorated combat veteran should, at a minimum, have received a new trial. But he did not.
Stewart’s accuser, 28-year-old Greta Heinrich*, alleged in November 2008 that the Green Beret had raped and kidnapped her during a night spent together almost three months earlier. During three days in August 2009, Stewart was convicted by a court-martial panel of multiple offenses against the German woman and sentenced to eight years confinement at the U.S. Military Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.
Soon after his conviction, individuals whom Stewart did not know began to come forward and make statements against his accuser. One of those statements appears below:
The first statement came from Tamara Buehler, Heinrich’s former roommate, supervisor at her place of employment and close friend of 11 years:
Statement of Tamara Buehler. On 15 November 2009, the defense first learned that a friend of the alleged victim had what was purported to be important information. While I was attending the annual fall Trial Defense conference, Ms. Tamara Buehler met with me and provided me with information which called into question the mental sanity of Ms. Heinrich. She faxed a statement to me the following week which was translated on 25 NOV 2009. In her statement, Ms. Buehler states that the alleged victim related to her that she was previously diagnosed with BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder). Ms. Buehler also related that in her “very close contact with Greta [the alleged victim] I very often noticed that her sense of perception is very warped at times. Situations that can be substantiated by facts are described by her from a totally different point of perception.” Ms. Buehler also points out numerous incidents that directly contradict Ms. Heinrich’s testimony:
A) Ms. Buehler reports receiving a text message from Ms. Heinrich on 23 August 2008 in which Ms. Heinrich described a lecherous night, where she “found my master.” Ms. Buehler took this to mean that there was sex of the sadomasochist type and noted that there was no talk of something happening that Heinrich did not like.
Ms. Buehler states further that Ms. Heinrich claims that her encounter with SFC Stewart was “great SEX.”
CONTRAST – Ms. Heinrich’s text message and description of great sex directly contradicts her testimony at trial where she stated that she knew she was raped while she was still in the hotel room. As Ms. Heinrich put it, “I thought that he raped me. I felt it.”
(B) Ms. Buehler states that “[u]pon leaving she [Ms. Heinrich] furthermore gave him her cell phone number; she was very eager to see whether he would call her.”
CONTRAST – During trial, Ms. Heinrich gave the impression that she wrote down her cell phone number unwillingly and changed it because she was scared. In her testimony she claimed that SFC Stewart told her, “[y]ou will write down your cell phone number, and the right one; otherwise, you’re not leaving”. She went on to state that she wrote down the correct number because she would have done anything to get out of the room. In response to a question about what she did with her cell phone number, she stated that she had it changed so that no one could call her anymore. These statements are a far cry from Ms. Buehler’s observations that she was eager to see whether SFC Stewart would call her.
(C) Testifying during the sentencing portion of trial, Ms. Heinrich stated that she is scared to be with people, scared to be with men, and scared to be with Soldiers. She went on to state that she has “no contact with men anymore.” In answering a question posed by the prosecution regarding whether she engaged in any dating relationships with any men since the attack, Ms. Heinrich responded “no.”
CONTRAST – In her statement, Ms. Buehler relates how Ms. Heinrich met with a teacher in the woods to have sex sometime between 13 to 15 July 2009, one month prior to the trial. Ms. Heinrich also had sex with another man sometime between 10 and 15 August 2009, shortly before the trial. She further describes how Ms. Heinrich had a crush on a friend between July and September and how she fell in love with a neighbor at the end of June. Each of these encounters prior to trial directly contradicts her testimony regarding her fear of men and her lack of relations with men since her encounter with SFC Stewart.
Combined with other information in the clemency package, the statement above likely influenced Brig. Gen. Steven L. Salazar’s decision to reduce Stewart’s prison sentence from eight years to three and enable the soldier to gain early release from prison. But it didn’t convince the general to remove the “sexual offender” label he will have to carry with him the rest of his life if justice remains out of reach or to grant him the new trial he deserves. As a result, Stewart’s fight to clear his name continues.
More incredible details of Stewart’s court-martial, conviction and continuing fight can be found in the book, Three Days In August: A U.S. Army Special Forces Soldier’s Fight for Military Justice, available in paperback and ebook via most online booksellers, including Amazon.com.