A military judge decided Thursday a Fort Carson soldier was not guilty of rape or a weapons charge stemming from an encounter during May 2021.
A civilian woman had accused Pvt. 1st Class Stedman Bell and two other Fort Carson soldiers of sexually assaulting her at a home off base. Bell was the second one to face a court-martial. The first soldier, Spc. Mariano Rosendo, was found guilty in December of assaulting the woman, who was 21 at the time.
Judge Col. Jacqueline Emanuel decided Bell was not guilty in the four-day trial that featured evidence including DNA and photos of the Bell and Rosendo having sex with the woman.
The woman testified she went home with her boyfriend Spc. Gonzalo Michael Perez, a military police officer, and intended to have sex with him. While she had been drinking, she was only tipsy. During the night, he invited the other men into the room, even after she told him she was not interested in group sex.
She testified that she asked Perez to tell Bell to get out. When Bell started having sex with her and Rosendo later joined, she said she was scared and didn't say anything. But she also didn't participate.
During closing statements, Maj. Alex Altimas said the woman had no reason to lie about the events, immediately reported them to police and has been consistent in her account.
"She said "no." She did not participate," Altimas said.
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Altimas noted Bell lied to law enforcement saying he was heavily intoxicated during the evening and he was not aware of photos, even though they had been sent to his phone.
Speaking in Bell's defense, Capt. Brandon Stumpf said Perez called Bell to invite him into the room and the woman wasn't shocked when he came in.
So at the time, "he believes its OK," Stumpf said, recounting the night.
The woman also participated in the activities by changing positions and giving Bell oral sex. She did not recount the activity, but it is supported by the DNA evidence, he said.
"He believes this was consensual," he said.
After the sexual activities, the woman called her friends to come pick her up. When they arrived they knocked on the door and confronted the men. Bell was facing a weapons charge for pointing a loaded gun at them.
Stumpf said there was no evidence to support the weapons charge based on the friends' testimony.
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