An Anchorage-based Coast Guardsman accused of sexual assault was found not guilty Friday afternoon.
A court-martial panel, made up of five officers and three enlisted Coast Guard members, announced the verdict at about 2 p.m. The verdict was read aloud by the highest ranking officer on the panel after the members had deliberated for 15 hours.
Fireman Roque E. Trevino, 23, was cleared on all three specifications, or charges, leveled against him — two charges of aggravated sexual assault and one charge of abusive sexual contact. He could not be immediately reached for comment.
The military judge who presided over the court-martial, Captain Michael E. Tousley, excused Trevino from the courtroom Friday and thanked the panel members, who act as jurors, for their service.
Tousley then held an hour-long confidential debriefing session with the panel members and attorneys, then another hour-long confidential session with just the attorneys, for critique purposes.
“Fireman Trevino is very happy,” one of Trevino’s attorneys, U.S. Navy Lt. Sarah Dorsett, said in an interview after the session.
“Hopefully he’s able to go on and be successful,” added co-defense counsel U.S. Navy Lt. Michael Hanzel.
The court-martial was convened by Rear Admiral Thomas P. Ostebo, the commander of District 17, which covers all of Alaska. It began Monday with panel member selection and was held on the 7th floor of the Juneau’s federal building where District 17 is headquartered.
Trevino was charged with violating Article 120 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Prosecutors alleged Trevino had sexually assaulted a female Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class when she was “substantially incapacitated” by alcohol at a Valdez bar, and later at her apartment, in January 2011.
“I think 15 hours of deliberation shows this wasn’t an easy case in either direction,” said Coast Guard Lt. Luke Petersen, who prosecuted the case alongside Lt. Cmdr. Tamara Wallen.
Wallen said that the fact that alcohol played a big role in the case made it difficult to prosecute to the high standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt.” She noted many of the witnesses had been drinking that night, including the alleged victim who testified she had little recollection of the sexual encounters.
“This case started in a bar,” Wallen. “... That was the most difficult (thing).”
Prosecutors noted that this case was difficult for all of the parties involved. Wallen elaborated that the experience has taken an emotional toll on the woman involved in the case, although Wallen said the woman will continue to serve in the Coast Guard.
Trevino’s mother attended the trial, but declined to give her name or comment on the case, even after it finished. When the verdict was announced, she broke down in tears of relief.
Lt. Stanley Fields, a judge advocate and spokesman for the case, said Trevino would report back to his duty station. Trevino is an E-3 who works in the engineering department for Coast Guard Sector Anchorage.
“He’s going to his unit and going back to his duties,” Fields said.
Trevino could still face administrative action from his commanding officer, Fields said. That could vary from a notice on his official military record to alcohol treatment or training, according to Fields.
Trevino enlisted in the Coast Guard in 2010, Fields said.
In an interview, Wallen and Petersen said even though it wasn’t the outcome they wanted, “It was important for a jury to hear this case.”
Both the defense and prosecution thanked the panel members for their careful deliberations. Panel members seen leaving the room declined to comment, although one of the members, who wished to remain anonymous, did said there was no “smoking gun” in the case.
“There wasn’t a special sound bite, or Hollywood moment,” the member said, adding emotions did not play a role in the decision.
“I think it was a real long careful process,” the member added. “We tried to get everybody’s ideas and thoughts out, and the idea was always to weigh the evidence against the specifications.”
• Contact reporter Emily Russo Miller at 523-2263 or at email@example.com.
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