Sexual assaults and improper relationships

The Army Court of Criminal Appeals has an interesting opinion and reminder about the relationship of improper relationships when there is an allegation of sexual assault.

United States v. Delgado, ARMY 20140927 (A. Ct. Crim. App. 6 January 2016).

AR 600-20, para. 4-14b. prohibits relationships between soldiers of different ranks if they:

(1) Compromise, or appear to compromise, the integrity of supervisory authority or the chain of command.

(2) Cause actual or perceived partiality or unfairness.

(3) Involve, or appear to involve, the improper use of rank or position for personal gain.

(4) Are, or are perceived to be, exploitative or coercive in nature.

(5) Create an actual or clearly predictable adverse impact on discipline, authority, morale, or the ability of the command to accomplish its mission.

This court has previously held that a solicitation to engage in sexual acts does not amount to a relationship as envisioned by AR 600-20 when the verbal advance was rejected. United States v. Oramas, ARMY 20051168, 2007 CCA LEXIS 588, at *6-8 (Army Ct. Crim. App. 29 Mar. 2007) (mem. op.) (emphasis added). This court has held that a single incident involving a rejected physical advance including touching and kissing also did not rise to the level of a relationship as defined by AR 600-20. United States v. Morgan, ARMY 20000928, 2004 CCA LEXIS 423, at *6-8 (Army Ct. Crim. App. 20 Feb. 2004) (mem. op.) (emphasis added). The main rationale behind these holdings is the “victim’s conduct is relevant to whether or not a prohibited relationship was established.” Id. at *7; Oramas, ARMY 20051168, 2007 CCA LEXIS 588, at *6-8; see United States v. Humpherys, 57 M.J. 83, 93-95 (C.A.A.F. 2002); United States v. Moorer, 15 M.J. 520, 522 (A.C.M.R. 1983) rev’d in part on other grounds, 16 M.J. 451 (C.M.A. 1983)(sum. disp.).