A lot has changed in the life of former Army Special Forces Sgt. 1st Class Kelly A. Stewart since the last time his name appeared on the virtual pages of BigPeace.com, Jan. 2, but the highly-decorated Green Beret and combat veteran is still fighting to clear his name.
Most important among the changes was a reduction in the length of his prison sentence.
On Aug. 26, 2010, Brig. Gen. Steven L. Salazar reduced Stewart’s sentence from eight years to three years, making him eligible for parole immediately. Seven months later, Stewart was released on parole from the U.S. Military Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. Today, he is living and working in Virginia.
Despite being out from behind bars, Stewart is still fighting to clear his name and shed the “sex offender” label that will stay with him the rest of his life if justice remains out of reach.
How did he get that label in the first place? Here’s the short version:
Stewart admitted to having a one-night stand with a 28-year-old German woman the night of Aug. 22, 2008. She did, too. Both knew sex was part of the plan when they left the discotheque near Stuttgart. Two months later, however, Stewart’s accuser changed her story and the highly-decorated combat veteran found himself facing rape and kidnapping charges.
During court-martial proceedings that took place during three days in August 2009, Stewart faced an Army court-martial panel comprised of soldiers who had recently returned from a 16-month deployment with the Army attorney serving as Stewart’s lead prosecutor.
Despite a lack of both physical evidence and eyewitnesses to the alleged crimes, it took only two days for the panel to find Stewart guilty of numerous offenses — including aggravated sexual assault, kidnapping, forcible sodomy and assault and battery — and another day to sentence him to eight years behind bars.
Incredibly, the conviction was based almost entirely on the testimony of Stewart’s accuser, a one-time mental patient who, with the backing of the German government, refused to allow her medical records to be entered as evidence.
When several witnesses came forward during a post-trial hearing to reveal startling proof that the accuser had lied several times during the trial, their words were largely ignored by the court and Stewart remained behind bars.
Of course, there’s a lot more to the story than can be shared in one post; hence, the reason I spent much of the past 18 months writing my soon-to-be-released book, Three Days In August: A U.S. Army Special Forces Soldier’s Fight for Military Justice (Note: Yes, the title is another thing that changed since this project began.)
Based on extensive interviews and never-before-published details taken from the actual Record of Trial, this 295-page book will be available in eBook and print versions at booksellers everywhere this week. For more details and order information, visit http://ThreeDaysInAugust.com.