"The first thing I did when I heard about the rape charge was call my mother, my best friends, and the young lady I was dating at the time. We had been dating about a month and a half, and she stayed by me. She and I are now married. My mother called the Training Group Commander, Marty Kauffman, and he told her, 'Your son is a sexual predator and he will be prosecuted to the fullest extent.'
"At the time, I was a volunteer for CASIE, Cadets Advocating Sexual Integrity and Education, and I had a good relationship working with one of the female advisors. When the rumor went around that I had raped a cadet, she suddenly shunned me. I knocked on every door I could at the Air Force Academy to find someone who would tell me what was going on. I was given two lie detector tests: the first one I failed but he asked me the exact same questions for the second one, and I passed it. They told me the results of the lie detector test were inconclusive. This was early 2000.
"In December, 2000 they told me my case had been closed in June. The individual, Sharon Fullilove, was a freshman and left the academy in November 1999, then she brought her allegations in February, three months later. Her mother was a colonel in the Air Force, and her grades and her athletics were not adequate. It is my opinion that she was going to be kicked out of the Academy.
"I told them I would love for this to go to an Article 32 hearing-- a process where they decide if there is enough evidence to go to courtmartial. But my case never went to an Article 32. There was just no meat to it at all.
"I was a rank senior flight commander at the time, and they demoted me to a cadet with no privileges or rank. They inspected my room on a daily basis. They put a signout sheet on my door and if I left my room for any reason, I had to sign out and say where I was going. When you are unranked, it shows on your uniform. Everyone knew it wasn't an academic charge, because I made good grades, and they knew it wasn't an honor situation because I am always conscious of our honor code. And so they assumed I was guilty of the rape rumour because I was punished.
"It was like a prison, but I turned it into a game to beat it. It took constant prayer and the support from my family and friends who were willing to support me.
"I graduated on time, completed pilot training and have gotten promotions on time, but there is a permanent record on me. It is a question that always comes up when I am being looked at for security clearance; my character is questioned. It's something I have overcome on one hand but on the other hand it will always be there."
Air Force pilot Jason Harris is an African-American who was accused of raping a white woman, Sharon Fullilove. Both were cadets at the Air Force Academy in November 1999 when Harris gave Fullilove and other cadets a ride in his car. (See Jason Harris case).
I asked Harris if he had considered the race question. Was he accused of rape in part because he is black and he tried to kiss a white woman?
"It crossed it crossed my mind to say, Why me? Why am I the chosen one? I don't know if anyone else made a pass at this young lady, but I think I was a readily available target.
"I never brought that up. I was not raised to jump to the conclusion that something might be a racially motivated thing. But being African-American, knowing how tough it is at the academy--especially for African-Americans, the stereotypes about the sexuality of the black male and all, it does make me wonder why I was chosen.
"I try to put it behind me, to just say, Thank God. My mom is a minister and we have talked about the fact that we should not ask, 'Why me?' Because maybe you needed that test to help you later on in life. Maybe it would have been too much for someone else.
"It was the hardest time of my life, emotinally. Having gone through his whole thing has made me such a stronger person emotionally. I have had to look people directly in the eye knowing they are thinking that I am guilty, they've already passed judgement on me, but still I look them in the eye, I'm not going to quit. I chose to get very engaged in the fight. This is no joke, this is my life here.
"There is no way to disprove a false accusation: my reputation is tarnished forever but I think she knows deep down inside she is a liar. People will wonder, did he really do this and we just couldn't prove it? I can't make someone tell the truth. That doubt is always there for people to wonder."