Sexual assault or love triangle? Fort Bragg military trial gets underway

FORT BRAGG, N.C. (WTVD) -- Col. Kevin M. Russell, who is assigned to U.S. Army Special Operations Command, is charged with five specifications of sexual assault and abusive sexual contact, a violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, Article 120.

During the trial, which began Tuesday, the judge heard opening statements from the prosecution, defense, and three witnesses. The jury is made up of eight people: seven colonels and one general.

The prosecution painted a picture of Russell's sexual involvement with a woman during a 2015 deployment to Pakistan. The military attorney stated that after a night of drinking, Russell along with another officer, Major Lauren Vegas, helped the victim into a car and brought her back to the home they lived in. She was to sleep in the guest room. The military attorney stated that Russell had sexual relations with the woman against her will while she was under the influence of alcohol.

The defense argued that this was a love triangle. Michael Waddington, the defense attorney, stated that the woman regularly had sexual relations with both married men.

Because of COVID-19 restrictions, media members watched the trial from an overflow room where only the judge, witness and the attorney at the stand were visible.

The allegations against Russell do not stem from his most recent assignment, but to protect the privacy of the alleged victim, exact dates and locations of when and where the alleged incidents took place have not been released.

Russell has served in the military for 28 years. If he is found guilty, he could be dismissed from the military.
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