UNITED STATES NEWS

Lawyer picked to prosecute Army sexual assault is fired over an old email doubting victims’ claims

Dec 5, 2023, 3:49 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — The lawyer selected to be the Army’s first top prosecutor of sexual assaults under an overhaul of the military justice system has been fired because of an email he sent 10 years ago appearing to belittle victims’ assault allegations.

Brig. Gen. Warren Wells was removed from the job on Friday by Army Secretary Christine Wormuth, just hours after she was given the email.

Wells was the Army’s new lead special trial counsel for cases involving sexual assault and other top crimes — a job created as part of Congress’ push to revamp a military justice system it believed could be overly deferential to service members accused of sexual misconduct. The office was expected to begin work around the end of the year.

In the email, sent to a number of his staff members in June 2013, Wells complained about what he said were false allegations by the alleged victims, pointing to the firing of an Army two-star general in Japan for failing to properly investigate a sexual assault charge in his command.

Wells, who was a lieutenant colonel and the Army’s defense counsel for the Great Plains region in Kansas at the time, told his staff that “you and your teams are now the ONLY line of defense against false allegations and sobriety regret.” He told them they now were the only defenders of troops no one will defend, “even when all signs indicate innocence.”

“Congress and our political masters are dancing by the fire of misleading statistics and one-sided, repetitive misinformation by those with an agenda,” he said.

Wells’ comments, which were part of a longer staff email on other topics, raised questions about whether he could effectively and fairly do the new job — which is under a political microscope.

In a statement, Wormuth spokesperson Army Col. Randee Farrell said Wormuth relieved Wells of his duties “based on a loss of trust and confidence in his ability to lead” the Army office. Wormuth concluded that the email Wells sent “negatively characterized developments in sexual assault response at the time and was dismissive of the principle of civilian control of the military exercised by both the executive branch and Congress.”

In a statement provided to The Associated Press through the Army, Wells said the comments in his email were inappropriate.

“My intent was to reinforce that defense counsel were a critical protection for soldiers accused of wrongdoing,” he said. “I do not want my comments to divert attention from the excellent work being done by the new Office of Special Trial Counsel to prosecute special victim crimes and care for victims.”

He has been reassigned to another job on the Army staff, and Farrell said Wormuth will select a replacement, who would serve as the acting leader pending Senate confirmation.

Members of Congress have been frustrated for years with the military’s prosecution of sexual assault cases and they pushed to remove commanders from the decision-making process on the cases. They charged that too often commanders would try to protect alleged perpetrators who were in their unit.

As a result, the Pentagon has been moving to a new system that uses independent military lawyers to handle sexual misconduct and some other major crimes.

According to Army officials, the email came to light as part of unrelated allegations of gender discrimination and other inappropriate behavior by Wells when dealing with a lower-ranking female officer a number of years ago. The allegations were made in a January email after Wells’ nomination for the job was made public.

The email accused Wells of abuse of authority, mistreatment and gender discrimination while he was in the regional job in Kansas from 2012 to 2014. The complaint was reviewed by the Army inspector general and the Defense Department inspector general. Both concluded that the allegations were unsubstantiated and there wasn’t enough there to open a formal investigation.

According to officials, the woman, now a civilian, then went to the defense advisory committee that was set up to make recommendations on the sexual assault prosecution overhaul and submitted additional records. Officials said the email from Wells to his staff was among the documents she provided to the committee.

Wormuth received copies of the documents on Friday and after seeing the email fired Wells later that day.

United States News

Associated Press

Texas police arrest suspect in abduction of 12-year-old girl who was found safe after 8 days

COLUMBUS, Texas (AP) — Police in Texas have arrested a man suspected in the disappearance of a girl who was missing for eight days before she was safely located. The 27-year-old Houston man was charged with evading authorities after he attempted to flee from officers on Friday, the Columbus Police Department said in social media […]

3 hours ago

FILE - A voting sign is seen near a voting center at Croft Baptist Church, Feb. 24, 2024, in Sparta...

Associated Press

A chunk of Republican primary and caucus voters say they wouldn’t vote for Trump as the GOP nominee

WASHINGTON (AP) — A small but substantial chunk of Republican primary and caucus voters say they would be so dissatisfied if Donald Trump became the party’s presidential nominee that they would not vote for him in November’s general election, according to AP VoteCast. An analysis of the data shows that many of those voters were […]

3 hours ago

Prison psychological specialist Christine Ransom, right, leads a group session for inmates, Dec. 14...

Associated Press

Prisoners with developmental disabilities face unique challenges. One facility is offering solutions

ALBION, Pa. (AP) — “You are the Lighthouse in someone’s storm,” reads the message above a mural of a sailboat bobbing on ocean waves under a cloud-studded azure sky. It’s an unexpected slogan for a prison wall. On a nearby door painted deep blue, a bright yellow Minion character offers “Ways to say hello,” lists […]

5 hours ago

FILE - Democratic presidential hopeful, Sen. Barack Obama D-Ill., celebrates with his supporters af...

Associated Press

Iowa Democrats were forced to toss the caucus. They’ll quietly pick a 2024 nominee by mail instead

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — There’s a lot less fanfare for Democrats in Iowa picking their presidential nominee this year, and it’s not only because Democratic incumbent Joe Biden is in the White House. Instead of congregating for caucuses, a one-night spectacle where community members publicly signal their support for a candidate, Iowa Democrats headed […]

10 hours ago

Kylie Moreland, the Monroe County Elections Supervisor poses in her office in Bloomington, Ind., Tu...

Associated Press

An Indiana county hires yet another election supervisor, hoping she’ll stay

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — An Indiana county lost its top election official nearly every other month over the last year after a longtime supervisor resigned following a counting error in the November 2022 tally. Voting advocates hope fears of a rocky election year will ease now that Monroe County has named a supervisor who is […]

10 hours ago

Christiane Keyhani, program coordinator of Hui O Ka Wai Ola, fills up the bucket to test water qual...

Associated Press

In Hawaii, coral is the foundation of life. What happened to it after the Lahaina wildfire?

Abraham “Snake” Ah Hee rides waves when the surf’s up and dives for octopus and shells when the water is calm. The lifelong Lahaina, Hawaii, resident spends so much time in the ocean that his wife jokes he needs to wet his gills. But these days Ah Hee is worried the water fronting his Maui […]

10 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Day & Night is looking for the oldest AC in the Valley

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Valley residents should be mindful of plumbing ahead of holidays

With Halloween in the rear-view and more holidays coming up, Day & Night recommends that Valley residents prepare accordingly.

...

Canvas Annuity

Interest rates may have peaked. Should you buy a CD, high-yield savings account, or a fixed annuity?

Interest rates are the highest they’ve been in decades, and it looks like the Fed has paused hikes. This may be the best time to lock in rates for long-term, low-risk financial products like fixed annuities.

Lawyer picked to prosecute Army sexual assault is fired over an old email doubting victims’ claims