The Wrongful Conviction of Air Force MSgt Michael Silva (Introduction)
This is the first part of series of posts that were run on Facebook by Never Leave an Airman behind that captures this tragic tale. https://www.facebook.com/NeverLeaveAirmanBehind
The last airman to face court-martial as a consequence of the so-called Lackland sex scandal was Master Sergeant Michael Silva, whose trial began one year ago today. Unlike every other current or former Military Training Instructor prosecuted since 2012, however, MSgt Silva wasn’t accused of misconduct during the troubled recent era at Basic Military Training. Rather, he was alleged to have raped a female trainee two decades earlier, in 1995.
This former trainee first reported her alleged rape to the AETC sexual assault hotline in October 2012, months after the scandal at Lackland made national headlines. Having provided a sworn statement of this incident to Office of Special Investigations agents, she dropped another bombshell a month later: then-Senior Airman Silva raped her a second time, she claimed, just a few nights later. To make matters worse, during the investigation two of Silva’s ex-wives also accused him of rape, in 1993 and 2007, respectively. None of these alleged victims appeared at his Article 32 evidentiary hearing in February 2014, however (http://www.mysanantonio.com/…/Rape-hearing-runs-30-minutes-…
By the time this case finally went to trial, the Air Force had managed to secure a rape conviction against only one other MTI, SSgt Luis Walker. (A second conviction was overturned on appeal.) It was the Walker case that launched the Lackland witch-hunt in the first place, and none of the dozens of other defendants since then was found to have engaged in similarly heinous crimes at BMT. “United States v. MSgt Michael Silva” seemed to offer one last opportunity to put a serial rapist behind bars.
The similarities between these two cases didn’t end there. SrA Silva was alleged to have raped a trainee assigned to the same recruit housing and training facility – building 9210 – where SSgt Walker committed his crimes. MSgt Silva hired a civilian attorney to assist in his defense, who turned out to have previously represented Walker during his court-martial – although he didn’t advise his new client of this unfortunate coincidence. In an even more ironic twist, MSgt Silva would receive an identical sentence as that earlier case, perversely book-ending this sad chapter in Air Force justice.
Unfortunately, MSgt Silva likely didn’t commit the crimes he was convicted of – in fact, these alleged offenses probably never happened at all. Over the next several days, we’ll examine each of these claims in detail, and hopefully shed more light on this shocking travesty of justice.
Read the full series/ whole story at http://www.saveourheroesproject.com/msgt-michael-silva.html