An Air Force veteran who was sexually assaulted by one of her instructors while stationed at Sheppard Air Force Case is now hoping to end the loophole allowing convicted military rapists to be freed.
In 2000, Harmony Allen was based at Sheppard training as a radiology technician when one of her instructors, MSgt. Richard Collins brutally raped her.
It wasn’t until 2014 that Allen reported her rapist’s identity to military officials.
In 2017, a military court found Collins guilty of rape and sentenced him to 16.5 years in prison, but after serving just two, his conviction was dismissed on appeal.
His sentence was overturned because the five-year statute of limitations on sexual assaults had run out 10 years before the military even brought the charges.
“There was hard evidence. There were witnesses,” Allen said. “There was the nurse who did the same exam, who said that after 15 years she still remembered my case. Because I was the only case that after she did the rape kit, she had to send on to trauma center for the beating that I took during the rape.”
A Florida congressman has now introduced a bill in Allen’s honor to close the statutes of limitations loophole for rape and sexual assault in the military prior to 2006.
The bill is awaiting review by the House Armed Services Committee.
Why was there such a delay in going to trial which later allowed the successful appeal based on the old statute of limitations?
According to the opinion of the U.S. Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals which overturned the instructor’s conviction, Allen first told a female instructor her bruises and scratches were the results of a sexual assault.
After a forensic exam at the hospital in Wichita Falls, she told special investigations she was assaulted by an unknown male in a store parking lot of the base.
When surveillance video showed no such assault, officers said Allen admitted she made the story up because she did not want to ruin a family or face retribution.
Allen still refused to identify her assailant but said he was not an instructor.
The investigation was eventually dropped and the rape kit with evidence was destroyed.
Then, Allen made a report in 2011 to an Air Force mental health provider and then to a sexual assault response coordinator saying she had been assaulted by an instructor, but she again did not identify him.
These reports were not referred to investigators.
In March 2014, Allen finally made a full report to the Chief of Military Justice at Sheppard, identifying the assailant and that led to the reopening of the investigation and a charge of rape against Collins.
With additional reporting from CNN authorities.