U.S. Military Lawyer - The Law Office of Stephen P. Karns

Rape/Date Rape

Rape is an incredibly serious criminal charge for which Mr. Karns has represented numerous service members. It is the type of offense for which the accused is often prejudged to be guilty, regardless of the evidence. Just being accused of rape can have a significant personal impact and potentially ruin a career. If an allegation of rape is made against you, it must be aggressively defended in order to avoid a rush to judgment against you. If the case against you is not defended properly and it results in a conviction, you could be faced with the maximum punishment of life in prison and sex offender registration. It is imperative to have an experienced military attorney such as Mr. Karns defend you against this type of accusation.

Many rape cases are based on circumstantial evidence—they are the result of a "he said, she said" situation, one in which the government has relied solely upon the statement given by an accuser to charge you with the offense. Often alcohol is involved and events are distorted or exaggerated. The accuser may have less than a clear memory of what happened and when and may even have ulterior motives for making the accusation. Because it is a sex crime, the accused is often perceived as guilty prior to any due process or opportunity to present his side of the case. In addition, the government often relies on witnesses who may have personal biases against the accused, or whose credibility is otherwise tainted. Mr. Karns can examine the government's evidence against you, including the statements of its witnesses. As an experienced military attorney, Mr. Karns can develop the circumstances of the case which are favorable to your side of the story and expose the biases and discredit the testimony of the witnesses being used against you. An experienced military attorney is indispensable to developing evidence for your side of the case, as well as dismantling the case that has been made against you.

Because rape cases can engender sympathy for the accuser, it can be difficult for the public and jurors to neutrally examine and scrutinize the facts—even if you have been falsely accused. It takes an experienced military attorney such as Mr. Karns to get the jury to focus on the facts in a manner and to the degree that will afford you a fair trial.


Past Cases

Client was an Army PFC who was accused by the daughter of an Army Sergeant of attempted rape on two separate occasions. Client met his accuser at a local bar where they drank and danced prior to her driving them back to his barracks. The accuser accompanied Client to his room and later claimed that he attacked her and attempted to remove her clothing and have sex with her before she could escape. Client hired Attorney Karns to defend him regarding a potential court-martial in this “he said/she said” case. After a long investigation, Client’s battalion command declined to prosecute him, but instead insisted he be given a Letter of Reprimand (LOR) for “using force to commit abusive sexual contact” and for having “committed the offense of attempted rape.” Attorney Karns submitted a rebuttal to the LOR on the Client’s behalf exposing the many weaknesses of the investigation. Attorney Karns’ rebuttal persuaded the battalion commander to rescind his LOR. Thus, Client was able to avoid the career ending consequence of having an LOR for abusive sexual contact and attempted rape filed in his Army Military Human Resource Record, and he continued to move forward with his career.

Client was a Lieutenant and pilot instructor in the Navy with eight years of service who came under investigation for abusive sexual contact of a female pilot instructor while they attended an off-base flight event. The night that the alleged incident occurred, Client was brought by EMS to a local hospital after being detained by a civilian police officer for public intoxication. The next day the female pilot instructor accused Client of abusive sexual contact. Client hired Attorney Karns to contact his command in an attempt to resolve the issue and avoid charges under the UCMJ. Client received a Letter of Instruction regarding his violation of the alcohol policy and no further action was taken regarding the allegations of abusive sexual contact.

Client was a WO1 with 8 years of Army service who came under investigation for sexual assault while he was TDY at Fort Eustis. Client had gone out to a local bar with a fellow Soldier and at the end of the night when Client and his friend were outside the bar getting a cab, they noticed an intoxicated female USAF Lieutenant getting sick in the parking lot. After she told them she needed a ride, Client and his friend loaded her into their cab, rode back to Client’s hotel, and brought her to Client’s room where they spent the night. One week later, Client was called in by his XO, handcuffed, and turned over for interrogation by civilian detectives regarding the sexual assault of the female Lieutenant while she was passed out in his room. The same day Client hired Attorney Karns, Attorney Karns contacted Client’s command and the command’s legal advisor to inform them that he represented Client. Client was ultimately cleared of wrongdoing by both the civilian and military authorities.

Client was a Sergeant with 9 years of Army service who had a SHARP complaint filed against him for abusive sexual contact by an underage female Soldier. Client had a party at his apartment at which the female Soldier became intoxicated and passed out. Client woke up the next morning and the female Soldier was in his bed. Further, Client admitted there was a previous instance in which the same underage female Soldier had become intoxicated at his apartment and passed out in Client’s bed. Client hired Mr. Karns who contacted Client’s commander and the commander’s legal advisor to inform them that he represented Client. Client was ultimately cleared of wrongdoing by military authorities.

Client was a Staff Sergeant in the Army with fifteen years of service who came under a CID and civilian law enforcement investigation for sexual assault of a minor. The accuser was a fifteen year old girl who was the daughter of a family friend. Client had taken the accuser along with his two daughters on a trip to visit his extended family several states away. The accuser’s mother and Client’s wife did not make the trip. The accuser alleged that during this trip Client had sexual intercourse with her and that she said “no” but did not resist. After a joint interview with CID and a county prosecutor, Client’s finger prints were taken along with his picture and DNA. Further, Client was flagged and removed from his duties as a recruiter. Client hired Attorney Karns who contacted Client’s command and the command’s legal advisor to inform them that he represented Client. Subsequent to a five month investigation, Client’s command preferred no charges, removed Client’s flag, and Client was returned to recruiting duties.

Client was an E-8 in the Army and charged with sexually assaulting his 17 year old step-daughter. After high school graduation, Client’s step-daughter joined the USMC and reported to her command that Client had snuck into her bedroom and assaulted her. Prior to Client hiring Attorney Karns, NCIS set up a pretext phone call where Client’s step-daughter made a recorded call to Client accusing him of the assault. Client did not deny the accusation and tried to explain that “a lot of things happened,” and he would rather talk to her in person. Subsequent to the Art. 32 hearing, Client requested administration separation under Ch. 10, but the CG denied Client’s request. Subsequently, after the government failed to announce ready for three straight trial settings, Attorney Karns filed a motion to dismiss based on the Client’s right to a speedy trial. Further, Client submitted another request for an administrative separation under Ch. 10. On the Saturday before the latest trial setting, and against the step-daughter’s wishes, the CG granted the Ch. 10. Thus, Client was spared from a potential conviction of sex assault, having to register as a sex offender, and serving multiple years in confinement.

Client was a CW3 in the Army who was brought back from retirement and investigated for a six year old allegation of sexual assault from an incident that occurred while he was in Iraq. Client hired Attorney Karns who persuaded Client’s command to move forward only with a GOMOR for adultery. Client was able to retire without being administratively separated.

Client was a Warrant Officer in pilot training when he came under investigation for following women in the PX and taking inappropriate pictures. Investigators pulled Client from training and took him in for an interrogation where they confiscated his phone. While he was being interrogated, additional investigators served a search warrant on his wife at their home and searched their home. Investigators seized Client’s work and personal laptop computers and other computer equipment and phones. Client hired Attorney Karns who immediately contacted Client’s command and the command’s legal advisor. After discussing the case with Attorney Karns, Client’s command agreed that it would not file any charges or take any adverse action against Client. Client was reintegrated into pilot training in less than one week after hiring Mr. Karns.

Client was a Machinery Technician (MK3) in the Coast Guard for 4.5 years who was accused of rape by his wife. Client hired Attorney Karns who immediately contacted Client’s command and had Client start compiling evidence of his good character. As a preemptive strike against the wife’s allegation, Attorney Karns submitted the many excellent character letters from Client’s supervisors, coworkers, and others. After bolstering Client’s credibility, his command dropped the charges and took no further action.

Client was a married Army Specialist stationed at Fort Leonard Wood who was pending a medical board when he came under investigation for sexual assault, communicating a threat, and adultery. Specifically, Client was accused of having consensual sex w/his neighbor’s wife while her husband was deployed. However, when her husband returned, the wife claimed that Client had raped her. Client was facing a criminal conviction for rape, confinement, a dishonorable discharge, and registration as a sex offender. Client hired Mr. Karns who contacted Client’s command and persuaded it to impose an Art. 15 allowing Client’s pending medical board to go through. Client was discharged with no criminal conviction, no jail time, no punitive discharge, and no sex offender registration.

Client was a USAF Airman Basic in training at Lackland AFB. He and a group of his fellow male and female trainees rented a hotel room and went out to drink at various clubs. When they returned to the hotel room, Client had sex with a fellow female trainee who was married. After returning to Lackland the next day, and after hearing Client tell other trainees that they had sex, the female trainee claimed that Client raped her. Client was charged with sexual assault and faced a general court-martial. Client hired Mr. Karns who developed evidence in the case favorable to the Client and presented it to the JAG prosecutors. As a result, the charges were dropped prior to the Art. 32 hearing, and Client was administratively separated for other minor misconduct with no criminal conviction, jail time, or sex offender registration.

Client was a married Army Sergeant at Fort Polk who was accused of sexually assaulting a female PFC. The allegations arose because Client’s wife found text messages between Client and the female PFC and confronted the female Soldier, who then claimed that Client sexually assaulted her. Client was facing a general court-martial, confinement, dishonorable discharge, and sex offender registration. Client hired Mr. Karns who persuaded Client’s command to agree to an administrative separation. Client was separated with no criminal conviction, jail time, or sex offender registration.

Client was a 41 year old Army Staff Sergeant stationed in Hawaii at Schofield Barracks. He was accused of paying for sex with a sixteen year old girl, who was a military dependent, but was kidnapped and forced into prostitution. The minor girl later escaped her captors and when she was with her mother at the PX, identified Client as one of the men who had paid to have sex with her during the time she was forced to be a prostitute. The girl’s mother saw Client’s last name and rank on his uniform. CID found only one Soldier with that name and rank and after an interview, conducted a line up from which the girl identified Client. Client was read an Art. 15 and hired Mr. Karns. Attorney Karns presented to Client’s command an extensive packet of evidence that established an alibi for Client; highlighted inconsistencies in the witness statements against Client; and established a timeline that showed it was impossible for Client to have been the Soldier identified by the girl. The presentation also included good character statements in behalf of the Client, his awards, NCOERs, and bank records for the ablibi. After consideration of Attorney Karns’ presentation, Client’s commander found Client not guilty at the Art. 15.

Client was a MK3 in the U.S. Coast Guard who was accused by his ex-girlfriend, a U.S. Coast Guard Seaman, of rape, attempted rape, and harassment. Client was immediately barred from entering the Coast Guard Yard where he worked, and he was subject to a Peace Order issued by a civilian District Court. Client hired Mr. Karns who immediately began to assemble overwhelming support for Client from his co-workers and supervisors who unequivocally vouched for his superior moral character and work ethic. Attorney Karns was able to persuade Client’s command that his claim of innocence along with his credibility were enough to make the case problematic moving forward. In the end, the Admiral decided no action would be taken and Client was discharged with an honorable discharge.

Client was a married Army Specialist stationed at Fort Leonard Wood who was pending a medical board when he came under investigation for sexual assault, communicating a threat, and adultery. Specifically, Client was accused of having consensual sex w/his neighbor’s wife while her husband was deployed. However, when her husband returned, the wife claimed that Client had raped her. Client was facing a criminal conviction for rape, confinement, a dishonorable discharge, and registration as a sex offender. Client hired Mr. Karns who contacted Client’s command and persuaded it to impose an Art. 15 allowing Client’s pending medical board to go through. Client was discharged with no criminal conviction, no jail time, no punitive discharge, and no sex offender registration.

Client was a USAF Airman Basic in training at Lackland AFB. He and a group of his fellow male and female trainees rented a hotel room and went out to drink at various clubs. When they returned to the hotel room, Client had sex with a fellow female trainee who was married. After returning to Lackland the next day, and after hearing Client tell other trainees that they had sex, the female trainee claimed that Client raped her. Client was charged with sexual assault and faced a general court-martial. Client hired Mr. Karns who developed evidence in the case favorable to the Client and presented it to the JAG prosecutors. As a result, the charges were dropped prior to the Art. 32 hearing, and Client was administratively separated for other minor misconduct with no criminal conviction, jail time, or sex offender registration.

Client was a married Army Sergeant at Fort Polk who was accused of sexually assaulting a female PFC. The allegations arose because Client’s wife found text messages between Client and the female PFC and confronted the female Soldier, who then claimed that Client sexually assaulted her. Client was facing a general court-martial, confinement, dishonorable discharge, and sex offender registration. Client hired Mr. Karns who persuaded Client’s command to agree to an administrative separation. Client was separated with no criminal conviction, jail time, or sex offender registration.

Client was a 41 year old Army Staff Sergeant stationed in Hawaii at Schofield Barracks. He was accused of paying for sex with a sixteen year old girl, who was a military dependent, but was kidnapped and forced into prostitution. The minor girl later escaped her captors and when she was with her mother at the PX, identified Client as one of the men who had paid to have sex with her during the time she was forced to be a prostitute. The girl’s mother saw Client’s last name and rank on his uniform. CID found only one Soldier with that name and rank and after an interview, conducted a line up from which the girl identified Client. Client was read an Art. 15 and hired Mr. Karns. Attorney Karns presented to Client’s command an extensive packet of evidence that established an alibi for Client; highlighted inconsistencies in the witness statements against Client; and established a timeline that showed it was impossible for Client to have been the Soldier identified by the girl. The presentation also included good character statements in behalf of the Client, his awards, NCOERs, and bank records for the ablibi. After consideration of Attorney Karns’ presentation, Client’s commander found Client not guilty at the Article 15.

Client was an USAF 2d Lt in pilot training at Columbus Air Force Base. After a night of drinking with his fellow students, he went with a female student back to her quarters. He and the accuser were very familiar with each other having been on a prior “date.” The accuser and Client engaged in various sexual activities that night, and the next day, the accuser began texting her friends that she had “made a mistake” which later became she “was raped.” Client was charged with raping the accuser by force. Client hired Attorney Karns who represented client for his Art. 32 hearing. Through aggressive cross-examination, Attorney Karns was able to uncover that the accuser had an ex-boyfriend at the school that she had been earnestly trying to get the attention of since their breakup. Thus, Attorney Karns asserted that the accuser lied about the rape so that she would not have to admit to her ex-boyfriend (who she wanted to get back together with) that she had consensual, casual sex with another fellow student. The Investigating Officer (IO), after considering the testimony and credibility of the accuser and other evidence, recommended that the case not go forward to trial because she did not believe the accuser was a victim. After the accuser became aware of the IO’s opinion, she informed the prosecutor that she did not want to testify publically at a trial. The command decided to accommodate the accuser’s wishes and initiated a Board of Inquiry at which the accuser would testify privately. Attorney Karns represented Client at the Board, the result of which was that the Board found no misconduct, Client was retained in the Air Force, and thus avoided any criminal conviction and jail time. Client returned to pilot training the next day.

Client was a Sergeant and Military Policeman stationed at Camp As Sayliyah, Qatar when he was accused of rape by a female Army Specialist. Specifically, she claimed he committed a sexual act upon her while she was unconscious and incapable of consenting due to impairment by an intoxicant, a condition that he knew of or reasonably should have known. At first, the Client denied the allegation, but then agreed to take a polygraph at the insistence of the CID investigators, which he failed. Client then confessed and admitted he had sex with the accuser after she had passed out. Charges were preferred against the Client for rape at a general court-martial. Client hired Attorney Karns who first represented him in Qatar for Client’s Art 32 hearing. Attorney Karns was able to expose inconsistencies in the accuser’s story through aggressive cross-examination; however, in the end, the Investigating Officer recommended the case go to trial because of the Client’s confession. Regardless of the end result, Attorney Karns felt he had created momentum for the Client’s side of the story, and after consulting with the Client submitted a Chapter 10 request for Client to be administratively separated. Through a convincing explanation of the motive behind Client’s eventual confession and the unreliability of the accuser’s story, Mr. Karns persuaded Client’s command that prosecution beyond a reasonable doubt was unlikely. Client’s command granted the Chapter 10 and Client was separated from the Army with no criminal conviction and no jail time.

Client was a Soldier in training at Ft. Eustis, VA, who went out with a group of friends from training, including females, and stayed in a hotel. Client was having sex with one of the female Soldiers in the hotel bathroom when another Soldier walked in. The Soldier filmed Client and the female Soldier having sex for a minute and left. A few days later, it got out that Client and the female Soldier had sex. The First Sergeant interviewed the group, and the female Soldier stated that she didn’t remember what happened. The First Sergeant told her, “you’re either lying or you got raped.” Client was then investigated for rape and hired Mr. Karns. Mr. Karns contacted Client’s CO and the legal advisor to the CO in an effort to keep Client from being charged with rape. Client’s CO agreed not to charge Client and gave him an Art. 15 for continuing to have sex with the female Soldier while being videotaped. The Art. 15 did not go in his permanent record since he was a junior enlisted. He graduated from training and PCS’d without any further hindrance to his career.

Client was under investigation for sexual assault in connection with a night of drinking with other male soldiers and a married female soldier. Client hired Mr. Karns after he was contacted by CID who informed him of the investigation and requested his statement. Mr. Karns persuaded Client’s command that even though there was sexual contact between the female soldier and the other male soldiers, Client was not guilty of any impropriety and that the female soldier’s claims lacked credibility. No charges were subsequently filed against Client, and he received an Honorable Discharge when he was separated for medical reasons not related to the case.

Client was a Petty Officer 2nd Class in the Navy who was accused of attempted sexual assault, disobeying a lawful order, assault, and burglary. After a night of clubbing and drinking, Client returned to the barracks with a female sailor whom he knew only casually. While in her room they undressed, showered, and had some level of sexual activity. During the incident, the female sailor began screaming and throwing things in an attempt to get Client to leave her room. After Client was arrested, he hired Mr. Karns who pointed out to Client's command that there was no physical or other corroborating evidence regarding the female sailor's claim, nor was she a credible witness herself. Client's command dropped all charges and resolved the case by giving client extra military instruction.

Client was an activated reservist and a law enforcement officer as a civilian. While in Iraq, he found out that a female co-worker accused him of rape. Client and the female soldier had shared a hotel room with two other soldiers during a weekend of pre-deployment training. Everyone went to dinner and Client later returned to the room alone. The remaining soldiers went to the hotel bar and drank. The female soldier returned to the room, had sex with Client, and left to go back to the bar. A couple of days later, her boyfriend noticed bruises on her and pressured her into claiming that she was raped by Client. Everyone had deployed, including Client who, because he was placed under investigation, was ordered to return to the US. Client hired Mr. Karns who contacted Client's command. After lengthy negotiations, and despite the fact that Client failed a polygraph, Client's command agreed to give him a company grade Article 15 and discharged him from active duty with an Honorable Discharge.

Army SPC was charged with obstruction of justice and false official statement at a special court-martial for allegedly assisting a fellow soldier who was charged with rape. Client became under investigation after the fellow soldier was charged and witnesses claimed that Client assisted the soldier by destroying evidence. Mr. Karns traveled to Balad, Iraq to represent Client at the court-martial where he was found not guilty. Client soon redeployed back to the States and received an Honorable Discharge.

Marine Corporal was indicted by a civilian grand jury for raping a civilian female after a house party had died down. Client admitted to the detectives that the complainant had a lot to drink, threw up, and passed out in a bedroom. He admitted that after everyone left the party, he went into the bedroom along with a co-defendant to “check up on her.” Eventually, the co-defendant and the complainant had sex. Client denied having sex with the complainant, but she claimed she was raped by both the Client and the co-defendant. Client hired Attorney Karns. The prosecutor offered to settle the case if Client would plead guilty to a lesser offense. Attorney Karns advised Client not to accept the offer but proceed to trial, even though he was facing up to twenty years confinement and having to register for life as a sex offender if convicted. After Client rejected his offer, Attorney Karns explained to the prosecutor that the complainant claimed that she was raped because she had an ex-boyfriend that she wanted to get back together with and was worried that he would find out about her spending the night at the co-defendant's house. A few weeks prior to the trial, the prosecutor dismissed all charges against Client.

NCO charged with rape and adultery. General Court-Martial panel returned verdict of Not Guilty on both charges.

Soldier charged with rape and sodomy. General Court-Martial panel returned a verdict of guilty on a reduced charge of indecent acts and guilty on the sodomy charge. Mr. Karns convinced the Division Commanding General not to approve the court-martial panel's verdict and thus clearing the soldier of all charges.

Army Specialist was charged with rape and sodomy by force. Charges were preferred after a female NCO claimed that she was raped and sodomized by force by Client after going to the Client's room and passing out. She reported she was raped the next day, and while at the hospital, a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner examined her and found that she had multiple vaginal lacerations, one which was 4.5 cm long. Upon being interviewed, Client admitted to CID that he knew she was "extremely drunk." Another witness who saw her minutes before testified that she was "falling down drunk."

During a lengthy cross-examination of the NCO at the Article 32 hearing, Mr. Karns got her to admit that even though she was very intoxicated, she understood the nature of the acts and did not clearly communicate to Client that she was not consenting to the acts. Mr. Karns also exposed that: 1) she offered no resistance, 2) was married at the time of the incident and may have claimed rape to avoid a charge of adultery, and 3) may have claimed rape because she was afraid that word would get out to the unit that she had sex with a junior enlisted. Despite there being a lower standard of proof ("reasonable grounds") at an Article 32 hearing to determine whether charges should be referred to a court-martial, the Investigating Officer recommend that charges not be referred. Subsequently, the commander directed that all charges be dismissed.

USAF Staff Sergeant was charged with sexually assaulting a fellow airman while she was “substantially incapacitated” at Davis-Monthan AFB. On the evening in question, the accuser's friend invited Client out to have drinks with her and the accuser. After having several drinks, they all went to the accuser's friend's house. The accuser and her friend said the accuser went to a spare bedroom to go “pass out.” While the accuser's friend was in the kitchen cooking something to eat, Client went into the bedroom and had sex with the accuser. The next morning the accuser said Client raped her because she didn't want to have sex with him and couldn't physically or verbally resist his advances due to her intoxication.

At the Article 32 hearing, Attorney Karns called a series of witnesses to testify as to the Client's good character and outstanding duty performance in addition to calling witnesses to testify as to the accuser's poor character for truthfulness. During Attorney Karns' cross-examination of the accuser, he was able to demonstrate that the accuser had just broken up with her boyfriend and wanted to get back together with him, but was worried that he would find out that she had sex with the Client.

Attorney Karns was also able to demonstrate that the accuser got back together with her boyfriend and that he and her command pushed her to make an official allegation of rape when she didn't really want to. Despite there being a lower standard of proof ("reasonable grounds") at an Article 32 hearing to determine whether charges should be referred to a court-martial, the Investigating Officer recommended that charges not be referred.



* Past results achieved are not a guarantee of future results. Each case is unique and reference must be made to the specific legal and factual circumstances presented.


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