By Panayiota Bertzikis.
In November 2012 military jury convicted Air Force Lt. Col James Wilkerson, a former inspector general at Aviano Air Base in Italy, of sexually assaulting a civilian contractor. After being found guilty by a jury of five; four colonels and a lieutenant colonel, he was sentenced to a year in jail, forfeiture of all pay and discharged from the service.
Three months later, in February 2013 Gen. Craig Franklin overturned the conviction. To further add insult, Gen. Franklin also placed Wilkerson on a promotion list. The general “was looking for a way to show the pilot community he had their backs” — wrote The New York Times.
According to Article 60 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the legal basis of the military’s justice system, allows a “convening authority” — a commander reviewing the case — “absolute power to disapprove the findings and sentence, or any part thereof, for any or no reason, legal or otherwise.”
Instead of serving his prison sentence, Lt. Col Wilkerson will be transferred to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson assigned as the 12th Air Force Chief of Flight Safety to help run the safety program for a unit of F-16 fighters. Even though Lt. Col. Wilkerson was found guilty of sexual assault, he will not be required to be registered as a sex offender. The guilty verdict has been completely erased from his record, and this convicted sex offender is able to continue serving as if nothing has happened putting others at risk. Adding insult to injury, the U.S Air Force plans on transferring a man found guilty for rape to the hometown of the victim.