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Sexual Assault At Sheppard AFB Part Of Legal Case Now At SCOTUS

Congressman Brian Mast of Florida speaking at a hearing.
Carolyn Kaster/AP
/
AP
Rep. Brian Mast, R-Fla., speaks during a hearing in Washington in February. Mast is sponsoring Harmony's Law, which tries to close a loophole letting armed service members charged with sexual assault use the statute of limitations as a defense if the assault happened before 2006.

Richard Collins was convicted of raping Harmony Allen in 2017, but the case was overturned by a military court. Now, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear the potentially far-reaching case.

This story contains a description of sexual violence.

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Tuesday in a case involving three military sexual assaults, one of which was in Texas.

Harmony Allen was in training to be a radiology technician at Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls when an instructor raped and beat her. The assault happened in the year 2000, but Allen waited many years to press charges. An instructor at the base, Richard Collins, was convicted of rape in the case in 2017.

A military court overturned the conviction, citing the statute of limitations. The legal dispute that ensued is now before the U.S. Supreme Court, and involves arguments about both federal laws and the U.S. Constitution. Justices will hear oral arguments on Tuesday in three consolidated cases.

“This case has become something more than just me,” Allen said in an interview.

She has also been lobbying lawmakers in Congress in an effort to toughen military sexual assault rules. Her quest has included sending letters to lawmakers.

“Every single letter... before you even got to the writing, were my rape pictures, were the pictures of my face beaten in, were the pictures of my arms, pictures of all the violence that he did,” Allen said. “I said, 'Even if they’re not gonna read my story, they’re gonna remember my face.'”

Legislation has been proposed in the House of Representatives called Harmony’s Law. It would close the potential loophole for prosecuting military sexual assaults that occurred between 1986 and 2006.

Got a tip? Email Bret Jaspers at bjaspers@kera.org. You can follow Bret on Twitter @bretjaspers.

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