Fort Bragg soldier cleared in civilian investigation faces military sex assault trial

FAYETTEVILLE

Captain Richard Camacho is assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division's 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade. He's married to another Army captain who has accused Camacho of sexually assaulting her in their Harnett County home.

The two were deployed to Afghanistan between the fall of 2011 and 2012. When they returned, Camacho's wife was reprimanded for holding a 10-month affair with a non-commissioned officer during the deployment.

"Two months after returning from deployment is when his wife found out about the affair and reported it to my wife's Chain of Command."

Military records show Camacho's wife was deemed "unfit for command," and in the process of being put out of the Army.

But in March of 2013, she accused Camacho of a violent attack inside their Bunn Level home, and was relocated to another Army Post.

"[She said]  that I severely beat her throughout the night and that concluded in a sexual assault, however she now claims that I sexually assaulted her throughout the course of our 9 year relationship."

Harnett County authorities investigated the claim during the summer of 2013. A final incident report notes the detective and District Attorney opted not to prosecute the case, citing insufficient evidence, and lack of cooperation by Camacho's estranged wife in providing a statement and photos.

"The case is currently closed. Cleared. Prosecution denied," said Camacho, who filed for divorce in early 2013.

MILITARY COURT-MARTIAL

Fort Bragg authorities do plan to prosecute the case, though, citing reasonable grounds. Camacho is now facing multiple counts of abusive sexual contact and aggravated assault.

"I never predicted it would ever go forward, and to be quite honest, I'm scared now," Camacho said.

During Camacho's Article 32 hearing, the civilian equivalent to a Grand Jury, another military investigator told a similar narrative as Harnett County authorities. In a transcript of the hearing, that investigator told military authorities that "Nowhere in there could I poke holes in his [Camacho's] story."

He goes onto say "I had no need to question his integrity," and saying he believes "absolutely this thing needs to end today."

That investigator going on to say once he gathered facts in the case he "would have recommended it [charges] all be dropped."

"Fellow officers will not publicly say it, but they see the injustice going on specifically in my case," said Camacho. "But in the end it's about very high leadership pushing the case forward, regardless of the facts."

Camacho believes he is the latest example of a service members considered guilty until proven guilty, as Congress and the Department of Defense find ways to tackle a growing sex assault problem.

"There is no doubt in my mind...that regardless of what the facts of the case show, the incredible amount of pressure being placed onto the military's top brass from Congress and also the media, to prosecute all claims of sexual assault have made it impossible for senior leadership to dismiss any case regardless of the facts," said Camacho.

In an 82nd Airborne statement regarding the case, the military notes its "legal and moral obligation" to investigate all sexual assault/sexual harassment allegations."

"Where investigations reveal potential violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, each level of command must review the facts and determine any action that must be taken. At all times the Soldiers involved are provided due legal process, and each case is considered individually given the totality of circumstances and facts," the statement read.

"UCMJ is not like our civil judicial system," said Camacho. "There's a lot of pressure, and can Lieutenant Colonels, full-bird Colonels, dismiss a young captain like myself because of the pressure they're going to receive after the testimony's is heard?"

"I want the [military] leadership to understand that there's two sides to this issue of sexual assault."

CONGRESS WEIGHS IN

Two Florida Congressmen, where Camacho holds residency, are now taking a look at his case.

Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Representative Bill Posey (R-FL 8th District) both wrote Camacho earlier this month, vowing to contact the Department of the Army of his behalf.

"In the meantime, I urge you to work closely with you JAG officer to discuss your defense," wrote Nelson.

Camacho said he also contacted Senator Kirsten Gillibrand's (D-NY) office, but has not received a response. Gillibrand has crossed headlines for her efforts to take military sex assault and other major crimes of out the chain-of-command's hands.

"I hope every true victim of sexual assault gets the help they need. It's a terrible, terrible thing," said Camacho. "On the other hand it's also a terrible thing what I'm going through, and I know other members of the military are going through. Having to prove they're not guilty of something they didn't do."

After two delays tied to medical records and witnesses, Camacho is scheduled to face court-martial in early June.

"The amount of stress, the amount of pressure this has brought upon me is unbelievable," he said, noting his estranged wife has not been punished for the adultery, and was granted victim immunity.

He calls her accusations an "attempt at self-preservation."

He said he refuses to think about a guilty outcome.

"Knowing I'm innocent, it's not something that crosses my mind a lot. It's not what I'm focusing on, said Camacho.

"I know the truth. I have the facts."

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