Reversal Sought For Smith Conviction

A story in today’s TheDay reports that attorneys for former Cadet Webster Smith have filed an appeal seeking a reversal of his court martial. The court martial was the first in the history of the Coast Guard Academy. Full story at

By Jennifer Grogan

Lawyers for former Coast Guard cadet Webster Smith will ask an appeals court to reverse his conviction for sexual misconduct on the grounds that the defense team at his court-martial was not allowed to fully cross-examine one of his accusers.

Attorneys will ask the U.S. Coast Guard Court of Criminal Appeals to reverse Smith’s conviction on charges of sodomy, indecent assault and extortion because the jury was not allowed to hear testimony that the accuser, a female cadet, had once had consensual sex with a Coast Guard enlisted man and then called it sexual assault.

“The excluded cross-examination would have devastated (the accuser’s) credibility, on which the government’s case depended completely, making it all but certain that the outcome in this pure credibility contest would have been different,” according to a brief filed by Smith’s lawyers from the WilmerHale law firm.

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One Comment

  1. George says:

    A reader contacted me on Christmas (yes our readers read on Christmas) suggesting I Google the name “Caitlin Stopper.” I did and it turns out Caitlin was a Cadet at the United States Coast Guard Academy. Caitlin spoke out about abuse and instead of being helped, she became further abused. I’m surprised as I read the many articles on her case that she had no female to turn to at the Academy. That’s to say the Academy had no process by which Caitlin would have been referred to a female mentor, counselor or provider. Is it possible that in 2004 when Caitlin entered the Coast Guard Academy, they had no, zip, zero Sexual Assault Victim Intervention program? Possibly, but an incredible oversight if so.

    My point is that this and other Coast Guard civil rights stories never get any better. There are often good reasons to exclude testimony, but this was not one of them.