By John Vandiver
Copyright 2014 Stars and Stripes
STUTTGART, Germany — Lt. Col. Brian Lofton, an Army officer assigned to U.S. Special Operations Command Africa, was convicted Wednesday of sexually assaulting a woman at his home in late 2012, but the jury’s sentence allowed the 18-year veteran to remain in the service.
At a court-martial in Stuttgart, Lofton was found guilty of violating Article 120 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice in connection with a charge he held the woman down and forcibly kissed the woman’s breasts against her will.
The jury sentenced Lofton to a reprimand, a $1,500 monthly pay forfeiture for one year and a two-month restriction that limits the officer’s movements to his home and his duty station. It did not, however, sentence Lofton to dismissal from the service.
Lofton was acquitted of two other charges: that he digitally penetrated the woman and that he grabbed her buttocks.
Prosecutors argued that allowing a sex offender to remain in the ranks would send the wrong message to troops, especially women servicemembers, who would likely be alarmed to serve alongside a convicted sex offender.
“Show what military justice can deliver,” Army Special Victims Prosecutor Capt. Meghan McEnerney said in her closing statement.
Under pending changes to the UCMJ, sexual offense convictions will automatically mandate dismissal from the service. That was one of the changes prompted by outrage over the case of Lt. Col. James Wilkerson, the former Aviano airman who was convicted of sexual assault and dismissed from the service, only to be reinstated by Lt. Gen. Craig Franklin, the Third Air Force commander who announced this month he is retiring in light of the controversy surrounding that decision.