A Coast Guard judge Friday empaneled a seven-member jury to hear a South Carolina rape case in Miami that alleges a male petty officer sexually assaulted a female Air Force staff sergeant in 2010.
A lieutenant commander was excused from the jury after disclosing that she was a victim of sexual assault as a freshman at the Coast Guard Academy in the mid-1990s.
“I’ve dealt with that issue; it was a long time ago,” said the officer, arguing she could serve impartially on the sexual assault trial of Petty Officer Sheldon Bond, 33. “I’ve gone through counseling,” she said, adding that the episode “doesn’t affect my life currently.”
Bond, whose hometown is listed as Anchorage, according to the Coast Guard, is currently assigned to Coast Guard Station Lake Worth Inlet in Palm Beach County. The charge sheet alleges that Bond, a machinery technician, raped, groped and otherwise assaulted the Air Force sergeant in Lexington, S.C., in October 2010.
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The trial is being held at the Coast Guard’s 7th District Headquarters in downtown Miami because South Carolina is part of the 7th District and at a time of increased scrutiny on how the military justice system handles sexual assault cases.
If convicted, Bond could be sentenced to a maximum term of life in prison.
Part of the alleged activity accuses Bond of “groping” the victim in a bar, his defense attorney, Navy Lt. Matt Kozyra said during Friday’s hearing, noting that “the defense is consent.”
Separately, Bond is accused of adultery — a violation of the military code that governs the Coast Guard — for having sex with the alleged victim while being married to someone else.