A prominent activist for gay rights in the military is awaiting trial for forcible sodomy and abusive sexual contact, the Washington Blade reports.
Air Force Lt. Joshua Seefried was initially charged in April, a development that went largely unreported by the media. The charges came about after complaints from U.S. Marine Lt. Edgar Luna, who is also gay.
On a weekend in May of 2012, Seefried had gathered with a group of gay military officers in New York City. Luna was also present, and the group was celebrating the repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, which Seefried’s organization, called OutServe, had anonymously worked with several of the officers at the event to remove. After a few drinks at a restaurant, Seefried invited some of the officers to join him at his hotel spa. Later, Seefried and Luna reportedly separated off to a private hotel room.
Luna alleged that Seefried then made non-consensual advances on him, but couldn’t remember almost anything that had happened to him after the restaurant because of extreme intoxication. Luna awoke shortly after the incident, totally disoriented and naked.
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After an almost nine-hour hearing on whether the charges should go to trial by court-martial, Major General Darryl Burke overrode complaints that there wasn’t sufficient evidence to proceed. Seefried’s commanding officer at Fort Meade, Lt. Col. Michael Goodwin, then tacked on the charge of abusive sexual contact.
Richard Stevens, Seefried’s civilian lawyer, argued that the rush to push the case to a court martial trial was fear-based, owing to possible political consequences that Burke and Goodwin might face. But prosecutor Maj. Mark Rosenow shot back, saying that Stevens hadn’t provided a shred of evidence to suggest that either Burke or Goodwin were influenced by politics. Burke reiterated that he had made his decision after careful consultation with military lawyers. The trial is set to move forward next month at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland.
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