Update: The prosecution of Air Force cadet Jack Warmolts for an alleged sexual assault in Boulder last year has been marked by controversy, including a judge's decision to give the defense team the new address of the victim, who'd moved out of state after the incident; see our previous coverage below.
Now, mere weeks before his trial was slated to start, Warmolts has pleaded guilty to second-degree assault and unlawful sexual contact as part of an agreement with the Boulder County District Attorney's Office.
While Warmolts will have to spend time behind bars (he's been ordered to serve one year in Boulder County Jail, plus register as a sex offender and undergo ten years of intensive supervised probation upon his release), the sentence stipulated by the pact keeps him out of prison. This kind of comparatively light punishment for sex crimes involving white, college-age defendants has upset critics on the national level, as in the case of convicted Stanford rapist Brock Turner, and locally in the wake of a judge's decision to give CU-Boulder sex-assaulter Austin Wilkerson just two years of work release and twenty years to life on probation.
At this writing, a petition calling for the ouster of the judge in the Wilkerson matter has collected more than 82,000 signatures.
Continue to see our previous coverage, featuring a detailed description of the case and Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault executive director Brie Akins's take on the blame-the-victim mentality she sees as still all too common in such cases.
Original post, 5:43 a.m. July 5: Over the years, advocates for sexual-assault victims have reviled what may be characterized as the "She Asked For It" defense — attempting to justify the accused perpetrator's behavior by portraying the accuser as an irresponsible tease who played with fire and then complained about getting burned.
Brie Akins, executive director for the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault, doesn't explicitly charge the attorneys representing Jack Warmolts, an Air Force cadet being prosecuted for an alleged sexual assault in Boulder circa 2015, of engaging in this practice. But she's troubled by a recent ruling by a judge, who ordered that Warmolts's legal team be given the accuser's current address so that her neighbors may be questioned about her "reputation and truthfulness."
Moreover, she sees commonalities between this decision and the light sentence handed out to accused Stanford rapist Brock Turner, which stirred controversy nationwide last month.
"In the Stanford case, we saw extreme leniency when there was discretion around sentencing," Akins says, adding, "There needs to be training around judges in order to make informed decisions around these types of things. You get judges with a wide range of expertise and knowledge making decisions about what is and isn't relevant in a case — and a lot of victim-blaming myths come into place."
Like Turner, a champion swimmer, Warmolts, who's originally from Upper Arlington, Ohio, is also a notable athlete — a fine lacrosse player.
His Air Force Falcons bio features some of his stats and other factoids:
2015: Saw action in five games and started in one … picked up one ground ball on the season.
High School:. Lettered three years in lacrosse...2013 U.S. Lacrosse All-American...2013 Ohio Goalie of the Year...first-team all-Midwest twice ... first-team all-state, all-region and all-conference three times...2013 conference player of the year...high school coach Ted Wolford.
Personal: Member of cadet squadron 10...attended the USAFA Prep School...son of Doug and Carrie Warmolts...major is management...after his Air Force career, would like to someday own a fly fishing lodge.
Those plans have been put on hold because of his current troubles with the law.
According to the Boulder Police Department, the Warmolts incident took place late on April 18 or early on April 19 of last year. That's when a nineteen-year-old woman visited the University Hill area of Boulder with a group of friends, including her brother.
As detailed in a police report, the woman subsequently met Warmolts, who was with a number of cadets known to the woman's friends, and he told investigators that the pair engaged in what he described as consensual sexual contact in an alley after drinking. He maintained that the woman was not incapacitated by her alcohol consumption, but her friends disagreed, and both blood and mud was found in her underwear. Testing later detected no semen but scored a positive for Warmolts's DNA — evidence that helped lead to his arrest in March.
The original address of the accuser was provided to Warmolts's lawyers. But she is said to have moved out of state because of the case, and his defenders asked the judge for access to her present domicile, so that those living near her now could be quizzed — and at a hearing late last month, a Boulder judge acquiesced.
When asked if she objects to Warmolts's attorneys being given the first address, the coalition's Akins sees possible reasons for this action. In her words, "You have to balance a defendant's right to get the information they need in order to defend themselves. And if the neighbors had witnessed the assault or the immediate aftermath of the assault, it might relate to the incident itself rather than a broader general picture."
However, she says, "I don't see the information they're going to get from the new neighbors as being relevant or useful to the case. I think too often we're questioning the victims and their character and what they did or didn't do. The focus should be on the defendant and what they did or didn't do."
This analysis dovetails with provisions of Colorado's rape shield law, which states in part that....
Evidence of specific instances of the victim’s or a witness’ prior or subsequent sexual conduct, opinion evidence of the victim’s or a witness’ sexual conduct, and reputation evidence of the victim’s or a witness’ sexual conduct shall be presumed to be irrelevant except:
Evidence of the victim’s or witness’ prior or subsequent sexual conduct with the actor;
Evidence of specific instances of sexual activity showing the source or origin of semen, pregnancy, disease, or any similar evidence of sexual intercourse offered for the purpose of showing that the act or acts charged were or were not committed by the defendant.
"In this case, the alleged offender" — Warmolts — "lives out of state, so his attorneys say there shouldn't be a problem with victim safety," Akins continues. "The idea is that the defendant couldn't show up on her doorstep. But in this day and age, with air travel and electronic communication, there are other ways the victim could be harassed. The offender might not harass the victim, but his friends and family might."
And even if none of that happens, Akins says, "I can guarantee the victim would still feel unsafe. Maybe she wouldn't be physically in danger, but there's a lot of emotional stress, too, that's not always considered, along with the whole process of the trial. And it just seems that there were other ways of addressing the defense's concerns other than giving out her current address. They could go through the prosecution and contact specific neighbors who have relevant information instead of being given blanket permission to interview whoever they want."
Warmolts is next due in court on August 5. Here's a look at his booking photo.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!