07/10/13 — Airman facing charges of rape

View Archive

Airman facing charges of rape

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on July 10, 2013 1:46 PM

The court-martial proceedings against Seymour Johnson Air Force Base Tech Sgt. Floyd M. Jeter continued Tuesday with opening statements, as well as the testimony of the two women accusing the F-15E Strike Eagle maintainer of rape.

The women, whose names are being withheld because of the nature of the crimes allegedly committed against them, had both been in relationships with Jeter. One is, and at the time was, his ex-wife, an Air Force technical sergeant. The other at the time was his girlfriend, an Air Force senior airman, with whom he has a son.

The testimony given Tuesday by the two women, as well as by the other three prosecution witnesses, focused on four events.

The first allegedly occurred in December 2007, when, according to the testimony of his ex-wife, she stopped to see Jeter while they were separated. Following an argument, she testified that as she tried to leave, he pulled her back into the house and raped her. He then, she said, was no longer angry and in fact was calm and rational and even apologetic as she left.

The incident was not reported at the time and only came back up, the ex-wife said, after she was interviewed by the Air Force Office of Special Investigation following the charges filed by the former girlfriend.

The second incident allegedly occurred in May 2008, when according to the ex-wife, she had again stopped to see him while they were still separated. Again, following an argument, she testified that he threatened her, that she fled the house on foot, and after calling 911, returned to the house with sheriff's deputies to find that he had allegedly poured sugar in the gas tank of her car.

This, too, was not reported to Air Force officials at the time, and only came to light after the ex-wife was interviewed following the charges filed by the former girlfriend.

The third incident, described by the former girlfriend, occurred in September 2011. She testified that Jeter had locked her, five months pregnant, in a bathroom in his Beatrice Drive home and attempted to electrocute her while in the tub.

After this incident, she told the court, she tried to discuss the issue with a mutual male friend, also in the Air Force, hoping, as she said, "to take care of it behind the scenes," keeping Jeter out of trouble. However, this friend reported the incident to OSI. But when agents interviewed the former girlfriend about the incident, she denied it had happened.

The fourth incident, also described by the former girlfriend, occurred in August 2012. She testified that she and Jeter argued and scuffled and that he tried to choke her. According to her testimony, she then went to a guest bedroom where their son was sleeping and laid down with him. She said that Jeter followed her and threatened her with a tire iron before raping her. Once over, she, too, said that Jeter became calm and apologetic.

After this final incident, the former girlfriend said she reported the rape to the SJAFB sexual assault response coordinator, went to Wayne Memorial Hospital to have a rape kit performed, and then followed through with OSI.

In subsequent testimony, OSI Special Agent John Fox confirmed that he had picked up a rape kit from Wayne Memorial and that he had interviewed the former girlfriend. He also said that he interviewed Jeter nearly immediately afterward when he arrived at his son's daycare provider where he was not on the approved pick-up list.

He testified that while Jeter had acknowledged having sex with his accuser, and admitted that they had fought, he denied raping her as well as threatening her with the tire iron.

Fox also testified that about two weeks after the initial report, he was contact by Jeter's original defense attorney with an email purportedly from the accuser to Jeter, apologizing, saying that she had made everything up. Upon further investigation, however, Fox said, OSI determined that Jeter had hacked into his accuser's Gmail account and sent the email to himself.

During cross-examinations, the defense team did little to challenge the major points of the prosecution's case, instead choosing to focus on slight inconsistencies in testimony, primarily from the former girlfriend, between what was said Tuesday and what was said at the Article 32 hearing, such as whether the shirt she was wearing that night was torn when he pulled it from her body. Defense attorneys also focused efforts on the fact that the former girlfriend had already once lied to OSI officials about the first incident, as well as the fact that the ex-wife had not come forward earlier.

The focus on the inconsistencies and the admitted earlier lie were both keeping in line with their promise to the jury panel to make the members question the accusers' integrity.

Finally, a third line of questioning from the defense focused on why the two women did not fight back against Jeter more vigorously or try to escape their situations -- to which both women explained that they were scared and did not feel they had the opportunity or the means to fight or take flight.

The proceedings were scheduled to resume this morning at 8 a.m. with the prosecution calling its final witnesses before turning the floor over to the defense, which has the option to call or not call any witnesses. Once the two sides are done with the witnesses, closing statements will be held, the outcome turned over the panel, and then the proceedings will enter the sentencing phase, likely wrapping up before the end of the week.

Jeter is charged with making false official statements, destroying or damaging non-military property, rape using force, rape causing grievous bodily harm, assault consummated by battery, kidnapping and obstructing justice.