Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Military appeals court considers role of confidential informant in sexual assault case

In a rare move, the military's highest court will hold a hearing tomorrow to determine whether prosecutors in an Air Force Academy sexual misconduct case erred by failing to disclose that one of their witnesses was a confidential informant.

In June 2012, Stephan Claxton was court-martialed for wrongful sexual contact, assault, and attempted abusive sexual contact of a female cadet. He was also convicted of assaulting two male cadets, including the confidential informant, Eric Thomas. Claxton was sentenced to six months' confinement and was dismissed from the Air Force.

The military appeals court will determine "whether the government's failure to disclose Thomas worked as confidential informant was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt." If the court overturns the conviction, Claxton would return to the Air Force Academy, as if no court-martial had occurred.

Thomas is also looking forward to the appeal; he has stated that his work as a confidential informant caused him  to receive demerits that ultimately contributed to his expulsion from the Air Force Academy. He hopes that the appeals court will provide a venue for him to go on the record to establish his role as a confidential informant.

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