In the end, he said, "I could not in good conscience let stand the finding of guilty."
Among the problems he found with the verdict, Franklin said:
— The victim turned down three offers of a ride and seemed to have differing reasons why she wanted to stay
— The victim had trouble identifying and describing parts of the house, didn't remember the attacker's mustache and didn't correctly describe her path out of the house
— Wilkerson's wife's account of the events differed in some details from her husband's, but Franklin said the conflicts suggested that the two didn't collude on a manufactured story.
— Testimony from the friend who took the alleged victim to the hospital the next day was not admissible in court, but Franklin said it indicated there could be a reason the woman might be less than candid.
Turner said the letter simply underscores the sense that there is a culture in the military that does not see sexual assault as a serious crime and that the victim is the one at fault. He said Congress is working to address the issue, but in the meantime the Pentagon should set clear standards on how commanders with no legal expertise should handle these types of reviews.
Franklin said he takes sexual assault cases very seriously and reviews all matters fairly.
And he said he concluded that, as a result of his review, he had a "genuine and reasonable doubt" that Wilkerson committed the sexual assault.
"It would have been exceedingly less volatile for the Air Force and for me professionally to have simply approved the finding of guilty," he said. "This would have been an act of cowardice on my part and a breach of my integrity."
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