A US Marine officer being charged with sexual misconduct faces an additional, more unconventional charge- lying to a journalist.
Formal Naval Academy staff member Major Mark Thompson -who is scheduled to appear in court next month- has for some time attempted to prove his innocence, even going so far as to air his grievances with The Washington Post.
However, according to the publication, new evidence has surfaced that shows the 46-year-old Marine’s dishonesty in both testifying before an administrative hearing and speaking to the media.
After the revelations were published earlier this year, the military opened a new investigation, which in April accused him of not only lying to the board and convincing others to lie for him, in addition to lying toThe Washington Post about his accusers.
Marine Corps prosecutor Major Babu Kaza submitted two Washington Post articles into evidence, saying Thompson used the newspaper to spread lies about the female cadets he had inappropriate sexual relations with. In addition, Kaza argued that Thompson should be imprisoned for 32 months, expelled from the Marines and fined $200,000.
“Thompson went to the ultimate billboard. He tried to get this story disseminated throughout the world,” Kaza said during the Article 32 hearing, a precursor to a court-martial. “That is conduct unbecoming.”
While charging someone with lying to a reporter is unusual, military law expert Eugene R. Fidell said the charge of lying to the reporter should be dropped.
“If that’s a crime, there are a lot of people in Congress and the government in general who should be brought up on charges,” said Fidell, who teaches at Yale Law School.
Lying to reporters would normally not be a bigger issue, though military officers are held to higher standards than civilians and thus many feel Thompson should be punished for failing to meet those standards.
“Intentionally telling lies about other people (the two female cadets) to a newspaper reporter in an attempt to get that reporter to publish those lies certainly, if true, falls below the standards the U.S. military expects of its officers,” Retired Air Force Judge Advocate Rachel E. VanLandingham, a Southwestern Law School professor, said in an email.
In previous interviews, Thompson asserts that he lied to distance himself from the case and the idea that there may have been more familiarity with the cadets than there actually was.
This will be the second court-martial for 46-year-old Marine Maj. Mark Thompson– a former history instructor at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. In 2013, he was convicted of five lesser sexual misconduct charges, but acquitted of rape. The charges stem from a drunken night when two female cadets showed up at Thompson’s off-campus home following the “boozy annual croquet match.”
Sarah Stadler described her relationship with Thompson as “ongoing and consensual.” Her friend claimed she was raped the night the two came to his house in Virginia in 2011.
Thompson denied having any relationship with the students, but when Stadler’s old cell phone was discovered, prosecutors were able to prove that Thompson lied under oath. They took a closer look at the new evidence, as a result of a Washington Post article about the case.
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