Airman found guilty in Lackland hospital sex assault trial

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Airman found guilty in Lackland hospital sex assault trial

by: Sig Christenson | .
San Antonio Express-News | .
published: January 08, 2015

(Tribune Content Agency) — A psychriatrist who was sexually assaulted by an Air Force medical technician tearfully told a military court Wednesday that the incident left her with post-traumatic stress disorder issues that still linger.

Her husband said the incident had caused her to become badly scarred, transforming a once kind and happy personality into someone who was “hard core,” and that their lengthy marriage had come under tremendous strain.

“I just worry about how this changed my wife,” he said. “She’s not the same person she was before.”

Airman 1st Class Michael Lightsey was found guilty earlier in the day on two counts of improperly touching the woman, a captain. However, a military judge also found him not guilty of attacking two other patients after they had surgery in June 2013 at Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas.

Lightsey could get 14 years in prison and be branded a sex offender in the wake of the verdict. He was charged with improperly touching the patients during a three-week span that summer.

The punishment phase of the trial opened with comments from the victim, her husband and Lightsey’s family. In an unsworn statement, Lightsey tearfully told the court that being a registered sex offender would dramatically alter life with his family, once he and his wife have children.

His mother vowed to stick by him, saying, “I am saddened by the decision of the court, I understand the decision has been made, but I want you to understand he is a kind and gentle man who is looked up to by many.”

Lightsey was found guilty Wednesday of assaulting the captain as she came out of anesthesia following surgery at Wilford Hall. All three women gave similar accounts, saying that he touched them sexually while they rested on gurneys after surgery. The incidents occurred three times in the summer of 2013.

Prosecutors and the defense battled for close to two hours Wednesday morning in front of Lt. Col. Marvin Tubbs II, using slides to help bolster their arguments in a case with high stakes.

Two of the women said they wanted to scream but could not. A prosecutor, Capt. Christopher Porter, likened the scene to a horror film, with Lightsey pretending to remove EKG leads and adjust blankets or IV lines before assaulting them. Only one alleged victim identified Lightsey as her attacker, but Porter said victim and witness testimony, and evidence that included recovery-room log books, put Lightsey at the crime scene.

But a civilian lawyer leading the defense, Jeffrey King, said his client was fighting for his freedom simply because he had done his job and told the judge there was plenty of reason for doubting his guilt. A key part of the defense’s case was its insistence, backed by a physician, that powerful drugs used to anesthetize patients left them in a mental fog. He also noted that just one victim positively identified her attacker and disputed the infallability of log books.

While the defense contended that the victims could have imagined being attacked and that sloppy Air Force investigators planted the idea in their minds that Lightsey was their assailant, prosecutors countered that the similarities in their recollections and supporting evidence bolstered their case that crimes had occurred in the hospital.

“All the puzzle pieces demonstrate a three-dimensional picture of sexual assault,” Porter said, standing next to a gurney that had been brought into the courtroom.

King, in turn, said the case was full of possibilities but little certainty.

“Throughout this case, there is reasonable doubt for every element of every offense,” he said.

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