Woman Had Consensual Sex with Cadet She Accused of Rape

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (1010 WINS) -- The student who says she was raped by a fellow U.S. Coast Guard Academy cadet had consensual sex with him after the rape allegedly occurred, defense attorneys said in court documents released Thursday.

Attorneys say they'll question the woman at Cadet Webster Smith's court-martial this month to show that the charge was fabricated as part of an effort by several female cadets to falsely accuse Smith.

If the woman was raped, Smith's defense team argues, why would she have sex with him later?

"We certainly feel the court will have the same set of questions,'' said defense attorney Merle J. Smith, who is not related to the cadet.

Webster Smith, 22, of Houston, is the first student in the academy's history to be court-martialed, school officials say. He faces charges including rape, sodomy, extortion and assault. The sex-related charges involve accusations by three women.

The rape case centers on a night of heavy drinking in June 2005 in Annapolis, Md. Friends have testified that the woman, Smith's on-again, off-again girlfriend, passed out and was enraged the next morning when she learned she and Smith had had sex.

Defense attorneys counter that the couple had a lengthy sexual relationship that continued until the week before the alleged rape and resumed the semester after. The alleged rape was reported after attorneys say the consensual sexual relationship resumed.

``The circumstances of this case are such that, once you see all the facts, right away you raise questions,'' Merle Smith said.

Military prosecutors would not address the issue until trial, which is scheduled for June 19, an academy spokesman said.

Seven female cadets originally accused Smith of misconduct ranging from improper touching to rape. Most of the original charges have been dismissed, however, and defense attorneys say the women conspired to bring the allegations. A military judge turned over to the defense team this week a series of e-mails among the women in the weeks before the accusations. Attorneys say they'll use the e-mails to prove the conspiracy.

Lt. Stuart Kirkby, Smith's military attorney, said Thursday that he was reviewing the e-mails and, while he would not discuss their contents, said they support the collusion argument. ``If they weren't relevant, we wouldn't have gotten them,'' Kirkby said.

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The case was referred to Rosa for action.

Urton's attorney, Capt. Michael Freimann, argued in a memo to Rosa that intent had not been proven. The other cadets got beer from the refrigerator, but the evidence didn't prove it was Urton's beer, he contended.

Records of the hearing aren't open for public inspection, and the academy hasn't commented on Urton's case because of privacy reasons.

Urton, who had a solid record at the academy and was a member of the elite Wings of Blue parachute team, left Wednesday after Rosa recommended Roche expel him.

Roche's decision is expected within two months.

Steve Werner, who was a military lawyer and judge for more than two decades, said it appears the cases weren't handled equitably.

"Seems like to me they're not being uniform in its application," he said, noting Urton had a tenth of the demerits normally associated with expulsion.

He said it's not the first time the academy has gone easy on females.

In the mid-1990s, a female cadet falsely accused her cadet ex-boyfriend of using drugs to get him kicked out. When her lie was revealed, the male cadet was exonerated, but the academy didn't punish the female, Werner said.

"That woman very well may be an Air Force officer," he said.

Werner said the academy, as with all service branches, tends to "go by the book" rather than tailoring treatment.

"They're probably running scared," he said. "They've got Congress looking over their shoulder. The current commander doesn't want to lose his job like his predecessor, and there was pressure to do something."

Other former military defense attorneys also said the disparity in treatment between Urton and Fifer was obvious.

The Air Force defended Rosa's actions.

"We have clearly stated our policies on alcohol abuse and other misconduct by cadets, explained these policies in depth to the cadets and intend to enforce these policies," Ford said.

Ford brushed aside suggestions females are being treated differently because of the scandal.

"We believe the outcome of the disciplinary actions would be the same regardless of the gender of the cadets," he said.

Christine Hansen, spokeswoman with the Miles Foundation of Newtown, Conn., a victim advocacy group that focuses on the military, said it's risky to draw conclusions from two or three cases.

"I know there's a great deal of fear on the part of the male cadets about the pendulum swinging too far," she said. But oftentimes there's a disparity between real fear and perceived fear.

"There is significant fear in the military community that you'll lose your career if you commit domestic violence. The reality is, that does not occur."