“Not guilty,” said court martial jury, but he was put on sex offense registry anyway

By Sandy . . . Starting in the early 1990’s, several high-profile cases of sexual assault in military academies brought to a climax previous years’ concerns about military sexual harassment and sexual assault. The culmination was when, according to Wikipedia, “In an attempt to deal with this problem, the Department of Defense issued the Department of Defense Sexual Assault Response policy. A provision in the 2004 National Defense Authorization Act required investigation and reporting regarding sexual harassment and assault at the United States military academies.”

As things tend to do with the government, what may have started as a good measure escalated and expanded, and before long the situation was such that incidents across the globe throughout all branches of the military were charged as sexual assault that in fact were not and should not have been classified as such.

Following a military sexual assault study released in 2010,  civilian leaders and military officials started placing even more emphasis on sexual assault cases by demanding changes that would yield results. As one source phrases it, “The desire to appear ‘out in front’ of this problem . . .  led to an emphasis on increasing convictions rather than true cultural change and holistic justice reform.” (Sound familiar?)

Into the midst of this was thrust a young graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. Arvis entered the academy in 1991 at age 18 and was commissioned as an officer in 1995 when he was only 22 years old.

Fast forward a decade and a half. Arvis had served in the U.S., in Japan, and on battleships and other naval vessels all over the world. In 2012 and now a Commander stationed in Washington, D.C., he engaged in a very brief romantic encounter with a civilian coworker with whom he had previously enjoyed a two-year collegial relationship. The encounter consisted of two episodes of kissing and touching. Following her reporting him, Arvis was charged with multiple counts of sexual battery and conduct unbecoming an officer. At the subsequent court martial in 2013, he was found not guilty of all of the sexual battery charges except one, and the panel (jury) asked to “revote” that finding of guilty during sentencing.

In spite of the not guilty findings, Arvis was dismissed from the Navy with the type of release that is the officer equivalent of a dishonorable discharge and was placed on the sexual offense registry in the state of Virginia where he lives.

He became an activist and advocate for himself and others similarly placed. He persisted in this and has recently been removed from the registry in Virginia, although he would most likely be required to register if he moved to another state.

He has been instrumental in organizing a petition on Change.org. Titled “Falsely accused and wrongly convicted former military service members need your help,” the petition lays out its case for military misconduct and for hundreds of wrongly convicted military personnel.

It gives the stories, with specifics, of several of these individuals. Of Arvis, the petition says, “His accuser told investigators that the kissing and touching was consensual, and during their encounter she changed her mind, but she also testified that she never expressed to Arvis that she had changed her mind.”

The petition further explains the situation:

Arvis testified in his own defense and was found not guilty of all sexual assault charges except one (6 of 7). During sentencing, Arvis’ accuser contradicted another earlier statement, and the jury asked to “revote” the single “guilty” sexual assault finding, but the judge, the convening authority (Navy Admiral), and later the Navy Court of Appeals decided not to overturn his conviction nor grant a new trial even when jury members wrote letters saying that he was not guilty of sexual assault.

NARSOL is very selective in supporting petitions; we find this one worthy and compelling. The request being made is that members of Congress direct an independent body to review the claims of false accusations and wrongful convictions of military personnel and to correct the wrongs.

This seems like a reasonable request.

Again, the petition is here. If you are military or ex-military and have been falsely convicted of a sexual crime, there is contact information at the end of the petition.

Sandy Rozek

Written by 

Sandy, a NARSOL board member, is communications director for NARSOL, editor-in-chief of the Digest, and a writer for the Digest and the NARSOL website. Additionally, she participates in updating and managing the website and assisting with a variety of organizational tasks.

12 Thoughts to ““Not guilty,” said court martial jury, but he was put on sex offense registry anyway”

  1. AvatarCherokeeJack

    In addition to people found not guilty, there are many of us who plead guilty to some things we did and some we did not do hoping to get on with our lives and avoid a messy trial. However at sentencing we found out that was a mistake when we had the book thrown at us.

    Having done our time anyway and tried to move on from even that, we later found out we would Retroactively be on a new thing called the sex offender registry for life. With no chance of ever being removed even if the accuser recanted their statements, we had/have no hope to move on without harassment and numerous probation like restrictions that can lead to a long prison sentence if violated.

    Even appeal judges bury their heads in the sand when a sexual offense challenge is brought before them as if to say “No no I don’t want to hear this”. Blind justice becomes a blind eye “to” justice and takes on a meaning that was not intended by the founders. As in the case above, those in charge, instead of listening to the facts and testimonies, put their fingers in their ears and said “La La La La, I don’t want to hear this”.

    1. AvatarTj

      I completely agree with you Cherokee. The term justice has become just us the ppl with power control those without. The registry is all about punishment not safety it never was about safety.

  2. AvatarPerry P.

    Ongoing Punishment, and Money. That’s The Registry.

  3. AvatarMaestro

    And this kind of situation had NOTHING to do with the reason we have a registry.

  4. AvatarBrandon

    I guess when in a relationship one should ask if what’s occurring is still consensual before continuing. Let’s start by rounding up members of Congress who had or currently having affairs, engaging in sexual harassment, texting pages, inappropriate behavior with staffers/colleagues, and kiss. If the government is concerned about sex why not show true leadership by looking at yourselves.

  5. Avatarmut

    of course. now that they have built a niche industry on the involuntary backs of a disenfranchised sub-class they have to continue to populate the registry at all cost so all the special people can keep their jobs and prop up the economy.

  6. AvatarTim in WI

    If my recall is up to snuff, the Rehnquist courts majority in SMITH V pointed directly at the fact the people were imposing the registration regime upon those found not guilty as proof of its civil intent. Somehow magically applying the onus to both those found guilty and those found not guilty, evidenced the civil declaration in a non dispositive way. When disproving a negative becomes necessary to dissolve culpability the constitution is turned on its head.

  7. AvatarMarc

    OMG, this happened to other people? I have felt singularly alone in this for years.

  8. AvatarA Mistake They Made

    The USA is invested in admitting MEN into thier Sex Offender Registry program after all it gets rid of those inconvenient rights. Of course the military has even less standards then civilian court.

    1. AvatarTim in WI

      That vesting you lament is the direct purpose of the standard waiver used in plea agreement. If one agreed to sign it and admit guilt, the waiver applies prospectively to all states acts on the issue. A Connecticut Supreme court opinion recently addressed the issue directly. That opinion highlights the formal processes themselves and how they all, and not just some, must be followed. Some prefer the easier, softer way and opt to sign the standardized waiver of right, but it is no bargain for anyone except states power.

  9. AvatarMike

    Hey Cherokee Jack, there’s also those of us that are completely innocent and convicted anyways and some are innocent but scared into taking a plea deal. I think if they want to know what it’s like then put themselves on the registry plus all information required by an offender, then they will know how bad the registry is and why it must come down, just a thought.

  10. AvatarWC_TN

    I don’t understand how this can hold up in any context. NOT GUILTY means just that. This shows just how dishonest and depraved all those in the registration industry’s chain of command truly are. All they care about is a bigger registry because a bigger registry means more money and employment security! To put innocent men who were found not guilty of any crime on the sex offense registry is unconscionable. This is why my respect for this nation’s government wanes every day. That anyone anywhere can think this is ok just blows my mind. Every time something like this happens my respect for this nation’s governance fades more and more and more. What would our founding fathers think?

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