Special Forces colonel acquitted of sexual assault charges in military trial

FORT BRAGG, N.C. (WTVD) -- Special Forces Col. Kevin M. Russell is a free man after being found not guilty on all charges. After a three day trial, the jury found him not on all five sexual assault specifications.

The trial lasted three days and included testimony from Russell and his accuser.

"We did have faith that the military panel would come to the right decision. We knew what evidence we had and what the truth was. We're pleased with the verdict," said defense attorney Michael Waddington. "The government's two-star witnesses were people known for lying, pathological lying and manipulation. They both have lied under oath repeatedly."

The accuser, an Air Force reservist, took the stand Wednesday in Fort Bragg's second judiciary circuit court. She admitted to the court that she hung out with Russell, planned Russell's farewell party and had sexual relations with him several times after the alleged sexual assault.

The pair worked together at the U.S. Embassy.

On the stand, she claimed that on the night of June 5, 2015, Russell sexually assaulted her. She said she consumed two drinks purchased by Russell while out at a club. She insinuated that she felt like he had slipped something in her drink by recalling symptoms like floating, hazy and memory loss. She said those feelings were out of the ordinary because she regularly consumed copious amounts of alcohol. According to the victim, one of her last memories was leaving the club carrying fuchsia high heels. The next memory would be the alleged sexual assault.
DAY 1: Sexual assault or love triangle? Fort Bragg military trial gets underway

DAY 2: Special Forces Colonel, victim speak out in Day 2 of Fort Bragg sexual assault trial

Russell took the stand after the victim with an account that was much different. He insisted that she was not intoxicated. Instead, he said the victim was coherent and agreed to the sexual act because she walked into his bedroom and climbed in bed.

"Your name is tarnished even as the jury exonerates you. Even if the person alleging the allegations canceled them. You're pretty much stuck with it once it hits the media," said Waddington.

The jury, which consisted of seven colonels and one general, acquitted Russell on the charges.

Russell's attorney says he now has hopes of retiring and moving on.
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