Newspaper Sits on Truth About Green Beret’s Bogus Conviction

Kelly A. Stewart

ON AUGUST 20, 2009, Stars and Stripes editors were understandably quick to publish Sgt. 1st Class Kelly A. Stewart‘s mugshot after he was convicted and sentenced by a court-martial panel during three days in August 2009.  Since then, however, they have been unwilling to publish details of what actually took place inside a U.S. military courtroom in German and resulted in the wrongful conviction of a highly-decorated Green Beret combat veteran.

ONE-HUNDRED FIFTY DAYS AGO, I was interviewed by John Vandiver, a Stuttgart-based reporter for the 70-year-old publication for members of the U.S. military community in Europe.  The subject of the interview was the book I had written and published last fall about Stewart’s life and wrongful conviction, Three Days In August: A U.S. Army Special Forces Soldier’s Fight For Military Justice.

FIFTY-TWO DAYS LATER, it became clear that Stripes editors were not interested in publishing the nitty-gritty details of the case.

In a Feb. 27 post, I speculated about several possible reasons why they had yet to run an article based on the interview.  Among the reasons I cited was the fact that Vandiver, through no fault of his own, was unable to land the extensive interviews with key players or obtain a copy of the Record of Trial — two things that make my book about Stewart’s case so captivating at the same time as it dismantled the prosecution’s case against the soldier.

ONE-HUNDRED FIFTY DAYS after my interview with Vandiver, Stripes continues to sit on the story about my book and, in turn, continues to sit on the facts underlying his wrongful conviction, many of which were never heard by members of the 10-member court-martial panel that heard the case.

TODAY, on the day Stewart’s case went before the Army Court of Criminal Appeals, Stripes published a 400-word piece, Ex-Green Beret begins appeal of sex assault conviction.  Unfortunately for those who hunger for the truth, the article made no mention of the book or the fact that its author — yours truly — had been interviewed about it almost six months ago.

WHAT AM I TO THINK NOW?

I’m convinced Stripes editors are content running interference for a system that wrongfully convicted an elite soldier based almost solely on the words of an accuser with a history of mental issues that were never allowed to surface during the trial.  Apparently, they don’t fear being held responsible when tens of thousands of members of the military eventually learn about Stewart’s case and realize, “That could’ve been me!”

Want to find out what Stripes editors are not willing to share with you?  Read Three Days In August, a book that paints a portrait of military justice gone awry that’s certain to make your blood boil.

Three Days In August is available in paperback and ebook via most online booksellers, including Amazon.com.

UPDATE 4/20/12 at 12:33 p.m. Central:  This morning, I attempted to leave a comment below the above-referenced story published by Stripes yesterday.  Hopefully, by Monday morning, the site’s moderator will have approved my comment.

UPDATE 12/28/2012 at 9:43 a.m. Central:  Five days ago, I shared a new observation about the latest Stripes article on Stewart’s case.  It’s a doozie.  See German Police Detective Has Memory Issues Like Accuser.

Is Green Beret’s Story Too Hot for Editors at Stars and Stripes?

On Nov. 21, I was interviewed by John Vandiver, a Stuttgart-based reporter for Stars and Stripes, the newspaper published continuously since 1942 for members of the U.S. military community in Europe.  The subject of the interview was my book, Three Days In August: A U.S. Army Special Forces Soldier’s Fight For Military Justice, which chronicles the life story and wrongful conviction of a highly-decorated Green Beret combat veteran, Sgt. 1st Class Kelly A. Stewart.

Near the end of my interview with Vandiver, he told me, “I really appreciate you taking some time to talk about the book and the case, so we can have a story out shortly about the efforts of Kelly to have a retrial.”  I was hopeful.

During the 98 days since that interview took place, several well-respected writers and journalists have shared their opinions about the book.  For instance:

Richard Miniter

Richard Miniter, the award-winning investigative journalist, New York Times best-selling author, radio host, public speaker and frequent world traveler, read the book and described it as “Well-written and thoroughly researched” before adding that it “paints a convincing portrait of a military justice process that appears to have lacked one essential element – justice.”

American Legion New Media Editor Mark Seavey, himself an Army combat veteran, read the book and used 1,700 words to explain his conclusion that Stewart “was railroaded by German protection laws”; and

Pamela Geller

Pamela Geller, best-selling author and founder of AtlasShrugs.com, read the book and published a glowing review which included this harsh conclusion:  “What emerges is a picture of a military establishment that is cowed by political correctness to the extent that it is even willing to throw our fighting men and women to the wolves to appease the left.

For some reason, however, Stripes hasn’t published Vandiver’s article.

On Feb. 21, Vandiver forwarded bad news in the most recent of many email exchanges since the interview.  His editors had told him they “need a more solid news development in order for the story to run” and, as a result, he’s “in a holding pattern until the hearing is held on Kelly’s appeal request.”

Apparently, the publication of a book that essentially shreds the government’s case against a soldier is either not considered “newsworthy enough” by Stripes editors or it’s simply too hot for them to publish.  I suspect the latter.

It could be that Stripes editors are intentionally suppressing the story in an attempt to maintain good relations with German government officials while keeping U.S. military personnel in the dark about the case, the details of which might cause them to think, “That could’ve been me!”

Alternatively, it could be because Vandiver, through no fault of his own, was not able to land interviews with key players — because none of the players on either side are talking — or obtain a copy of the Record of Trial which I was able to get. As the appeal process approaches another important milestone, none of the key players — including, on the advice of his attorney, Stewart — are talking.

Regardless of what Stripes editors choose to report about Stewart’s case, you don’t have to wait to find out what really happened.  You can make your own judgments based upon never-before-published details of the case found only in my book, Three Days In August.

Three Days In August is available in paperback and ebook via most online booksellers, including Amazon.com.

Accuser’s Strange Definition of ‘Contact’ Highlighted in Book About Green Beret’s Conviction

The definition of the word, contact, should have been a major issue at Army Special Forces Sgt. 1st Class Kelly A. Stewart‘s court-martial at a U.S. Army post in Germany during three days in August 2009.  Unfortunately, the military judge overseeing the case thought otherwise.

Sgt. 1st Class Kelly A. Stewart

On Aug. 19, 2009, SFC Stewart was convicted of multiple offenses based almost entirely on the testimony of his accuser, a 29-year-old German woman with whom he admitted having a one-night stand a year earlier.

During pre-sentencing testimony the following day, Sgt. 1st Class Kelly A. Stewart‘s accuser — whose real name is not shown below — was cross-examined by Capt. Greg O’Malley, assistant trial counsel.  Below are excerpts from their exchange:

Q. Ms. Heinrich, as you know, Sergeant First Class Stewart has been found guilty of several offenses against you. How have these offenses that he has been found guilty of affected you?
A. I am very scared.

Q. Scared of what?
A. I am scared. I am scared to be with people. I am scared of men and scared of soldiers.

Q. Why are you scared to be with people?
A. I have to think the whole time that you are not able to see–you know, look at people and see to what they are capable of doing.

Q. How has this affected you regarding men?
A. I have no contacts to men anymore.

Q. Why not?
A. Because I couldn’t bear it if something like that happened to me again.

Q. Have you been engaged in any dating relationships with any men since this attack?
A. No.

Several questions required the accuser to explain how her relationships with soldiers had changed, then the prosecution’s questioning turned to her social life in general:

Q. Has your social life changed as a result of these attacks?
A. Yes.

Q. How so?
A. I was always with people a lot of times, but that’s not this way anymore. I now spend a lot of time alone or with friends.

Q. Why do you spend so much time alone?
A. At home because that’s where I feel safe–safer.

Q. Have your sleeping–your ability to sleep been affected by the actions of Sergeant First Class Stewart?
A. I dream of him every night.

Q. How has that affected you?
A. I at the most sleep three hours a night.

Q. Is that because of the dreams you have regarding Sergeant Stewart?
A. Yes.

SFC Stewart returns from a mission in Iraq.

More questions followed about how she said she felt after the alleged attacks and how it had changed her habits, then the prosecution’s questioning returned to how she felt about being around men:

Q. How do you feel when a man looks at you with interest?

CIVILIAN DEFENSE COUNSEL: Objection, calls for speculation as to whether the man is looking at her with interest.

MILITARY JUDGE: Overruled.

A. Most of the time I can’t bear it if men look at me.

Q. How do you react?
A. Either really harsh verbally, you know, so I–so that they leave me or I’m leaving the situation.

During a post-trial Article 39(a) hearing (a.k.a., “DuBay Hearing”) nine months later, the defense had an opportunity to present new evidence and/or testimony before the court.  During that hearing, SFC Stewart’s accuser was questioned by the military judge, Major Charles Kuhfahl, about statements she had made during the aforementioned pre-sentencing testimony.

Several of the military judge’s questions were related to the accuser’s admission that she had sexual intercourse with a male teacher during the month prior to the court-martial — and to her definition of the word, contact.  An excerpt from that exchange appears below:

Q. Okay. When asked why you have no contacts with men you said, “I couldn’t bear it if something like that happened to me again.”
A. Correct.

Q. Do you remember making that response?
A. Yes, I do remember.

Q. Now, the incident that you testified to related to Sergeant Stewart, that was a one-night stand, correct?

INTERPRETER: I’m sorry, sir.

Q. The incident that you testified to regarding Sergeant Stewart was also a one-night stand.
A. Yes, correct.

Q. And the incident you testified to earlier about the teacher was a one-night stand.
A. Yes, from my point it was a one-night stand, but the teacher wanted a relationship. I didn’t.

Q. But you only had sex with him on one occasion.
A. Yes, correct, one time.

Q. And that was about a month prior to your testimony in August.
A. Yes, correct, it was in July.

Q. Did you not consider what had occurred with the teacher as contact with men?
A. We didn’t see each other for a longer period of time and it was not a relationship or partnership with this person.

Q. So when you said, “I have no contact to men,” are you saying you were defining “contact” as “relationship”?
A. I understood it to be relationship because during the daily course of life I always have contact with other men.

Q. You stated at the previous hearing that you had not engaged in any dating relationships since the attack.
A.
  Yes.

Q. Was that true?
A. Yes, that’s correct.

[Pause.]

A. I did tell the teacher at the time what had happened to me because the teacher wanted a relationship with me and I did try to restart my life again and so I tried it, but I just couldn’t.

Q. Prior to the trial in August, did anybody ever ask you whether you had had sexual intercourse with someone after the attack?

INTERPRETER: I’m sorry, sir. Can you repeat the question again?

Q. Prior to testifying in August 2009, did anyone associated with the trial ask you if you had had sexual intercourse since the attack?
A. I don’t recall that anybody had asked me that.  It would have been after and not before.

Q. Did you ever voluntarily disclose to anyone associated with the trial that you had had sex with this teacher prior to the hearing?

INTERPRETER: Prior to?

Q. Prior to the hearing in August of 2009.
A. Yes.

A short time later, the accuser fielded more questions from the military judge, including the following:

Q. Did you think that the jury would think poorly of you if they knew you had sexual intercourse a month before the trial?
A. Yes, correct.

Eventually, the military judge asked her questions about a curious statement she had made during pre-sentencing phase:

Q. When you were asked a question about not having contact–or excuse me, when you made the statement that you had no contact with men anymore, did the incident with the teacher run through your mind?
A. Yes.

Q. Did you intentionally not mention that because you didn’t want the jury to think poorly of you?
A. No, I did not intentionally suppress that. I just was afraid that nobody would believe me.

Q. What do you mean you’re afraid nobody would believe you?
A. I mean by that I was afraid that nothing would happen to that man after he had done those things to me. I was so afraid that nobody would respect what I had to go through the entire year–nobody would understand what had happened to me.

Q. So you were afraid that the jury would not punish Sergeant Stewart if they knew about the sex with the teacher?
A. Well, the situation was very, very difficult for me.  I don’t really know exactly what I thought in detail at the time, but the whole situation was very, very difficult for me.

When the military judge had finished questioning the accuser, he asked if either the prosecution or the defense had any more questions.  Only the civilian defense counsel did, and he asked a single question:

Q. Ms. Heinrich, did you also have sexual contact with a very tall black guest at your pension? [Note:  "Pension" is the German word for "bed and breakfast."]

The assistant trial counsel objected to the question but was overruled by the military judge, and the accuser was told to answer the question.

The accuser’s answer to that question and how others familiar with the case interpret the word, contact — or “contakt” in German — can be found inside the book, Three Days In August: A U.S. Army Special Forces Soldier’s Fight For Military Justice.  It’s available in paperback and ebook via most online booksellers, including Amazon.com.