by Senior Airman Katrina Heikkinen
8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
2/27/2015 - KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- "At
midnight you decided to go to another bar is that correct?" asked Capt.
Erin Kenny, 8th Fighter Wing Area Defense Counsel attorney.
Tech. Sgt. Katherine Simpkins, 8th FW command section superintendent,
nods as she clasps her hands, looking down. Question after question, she
attempts to recall the reported events that transpired over the course
of the night. The defense attorney, trial counsel and the alleged
perpetrator look intently upon the victim as they shift uncomfortably in
This is the scene witnessed monthly by Airmen from the First Term Airmen
Center, whose training incorporates the realistic portrayal of a sexual
assault trial. In an attempt to highlight the emotional, legal and
wide-reaching ramifications of sexual assault on individuals, work
sections and units involved, the 8th FW Sexual Assault Prevention and
Response office teams up with the base legal office to conduct the mock
trials for every first-term Airman entering Kunsan.
Throughout the course of the trial, it is revealed that both the alleged
victim and perpetrator met through mutual friends. As the night
progresses, Airmen discover two primary factors involved in the sexual
assault case are high alcohol consumption and the female was left
without a Wingman, thus leading to the alleged perpetrator offering to
take her home. The events that transpired, including the male entering
the female's room, led her to make a sexual assault report.
"The first time I saw a mock trial I was shocked, because I've never
heard a sexual assault case scenario play out step by step," said Airman
1st Class Shain Ruhl, 8th Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle
maintenance journeyman. "But since I've become a victim advocate, I
really think it's important for first-term Airmen to have a chance to
see these. It opens people's eyes to this topic, because it forces you
to see that it is a very real problem that must be addressed."
Mock trials are just one of Kunsan's SAPR programs, which take a unique
approach to prevention by emphasizing the aftermath of a sexual assault
that goes to trial.
"Here, we have a unique opportunity to demonstrate to Kunsan Airmen a
different perspective -- what happens after a report of a sexual assault
is made," said Capt. Claudia Santos, 8th FW sexual assault response
coordinator. "By working together with our base legal team and the
office of the Area Defense Counsel, we re-create a realistic scenario in
which the victim, the alleged perpetrator and witnesses all take part
in the court proceedings."
The demonstration provides not only insight into what occurs during a
sexual assault trial, but also a chance to review and analyze the facts
as they would be presented in court.
Although the mock trial may be an uncomfortable experience to witness,
it provides Airmen a chance to see how events from one night out can
lead to a sexual assault. In an environment of zero tolerance for sexual
assault, it is every Airman's responsibility to combat and prevent
"Through these mock trials, Airmen see how serious and terrifying the
court-martial process can be instead of just telling them about it,"
Kenny said. "Conducting mock trials show Airmen how quickly a night of
fun can escalate to a sexual assault allegation."
According to the Kunsan SAPR office, 71 percent of sexual assaults in U.S. Forces Korea involve alcohol consumption.
"The statistics are staggering," Santos said. "What people may not
realize is that only about 20 percent of all assaults are committed by
offenders that are strangers to the victim.
Unfortunately, a majority of cases we see involve situations with
family, intimate partners, friends, co-workers or acquaintances."
Although the purpose of the trial wasn't to reach a final verdict,
Airmen took away valuable insight into how the Wingman concept,
responsible alcohol consumption and bystander intervention can each play
a role in preventing sexual assault. Although alcohol intoxication is
not the cause of sexual assault, mock trials provide insight to Airmen
by showing the correlation between sexual assault and reduced
"Mock trials demonstrate how perfectly innocent nights can go extremely
wrong," said Capt. Brian Adams, 8th Fighter Wing deputy judge advocate.
"I hope that discussing the topic of sexual assault through mock trials
can be a reminder to Airmen to always be mindful of how their actions
affect others and the importance of always having a plan."