How to fight a SHARP complaint
Soldiers that find themselves facing a SHARP complaint in an investigation should start by consulting an experienced military lawyer. This helps them understand how to fight a SHARP complaint. Soldiers can find themselves facing an AdSep Board for Sexual Harassment or a Board of Inquiry for Sexual Harassment if they approach the investigation without any assistance from an attorney. Regardless of gender, SHARP complaints can kill careers and reputations.
SHARP Complaint Process
The process of a SHARP complaint is as follows: the commander has three days to acknowledge the complaint after Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC) has brought the report to them. They then have 24 hours to report the complaint to the installation SARC. The Installation SARC then must send a memorandum to the General Court Martial Convening Authority (the GO commander of the unit where the complaint originated). The GCMCA will decide whether to investigate.
How to fight a SHARP complaint
Should a Soldier suspect they are under investigation, they should understand that making statements is not in their interest. Nor should they be speaking with potential witnesses about the suspected incident. Once the Soldier is contacted by an investigator, it is time to consult with an attorney. It is very common for the target of the investigation to seek help from their local Trial Defense Service for assistance with responding to investigators. Usually, TDS doesn’t have the time to help a Soldier at this stage. These attorneys are good, hardworking lawyers, but are often overwhelmed with more serious cases that don’t allow them to prioritize Soldiers at this early stage. Trial Defense Attorneys generally don’t appear on the scene until a Soldier is facing an AdSep Board for Sexual Harassment or a Board of Inquiry for Sexual Harassment. Soldiers should contact an experienced military attorney like Peter Kageleiry, Jr. to see how he can help them at this stage of the investigation. The most important thing the attorney can do is keep the target of the investigation from making it worse. Soldiers feel under great pressure to correct the record when they have been accused of sexual harassment. They should not give in to this pressure. Answering questions for an investigator will only confirm certain facts, like time and place, that the investigator already knows. The investigator will use this information against the target. Soldiers should not answer any questions before consulting an experienced military attorney. Targets often want to appeal to witnesses or conduct their own investigations to clear their names. These actions can instead result in added charges of obstruction of justice or tampering with witnesses. Having an experienced attorney onboard can keep aggressive investigators away and guide the target through the process, reducing stress and protecting the Soldier from making mistakes.
When the SHARP investigation is complete
Investigators must complete their investigation within 14 calendar days unless they are granted an extension. Once the investigation is complete and the findings are reported to the commander, the target of the investigation has seven calendar days to submit and appeal in writing. They then have three calendar days to submit the appeal to the next higher commander. The appeal authority must render a decision and provide written feedback within 14 calendar days of receipt of the appeal. If the investigation finds the target has committed misconduct in the form of sexual harassment, it is very important to have an experienced attorney to help craft the appeal in a timely manner. This is another reason to have brought an attorney on board during the investigation phase where they already have visibility on the investigation and can be prepared to respond quickly. This is how you fight a SHARP complaint: with an experienced military attorney.
What happens if the investigation finds a Soldier has committed a SHARP offense?
SHARP offenses are career killers. If a Soldier is found to have committed a SHARP offense, they will likely face some kind of admin punishment like an Article 15 or a GOMOR. That will likely be followed up with an involuntary separation. All the services have enacted policies which require the service to initiate separation proceedings against those found to be credibly accused of sexual harassment or sexual assault. If the Soldier has six or more years of service, they are entitled to a separation board. If they are an officer, it’s called a Board of Inquiry. If they are enlisted it’s called an AdSep Board. An Adsep Board for Sexual Harassment or a Board of Inquiry for Sexual Harassment is an opportunity for the Soldier to clear their name and save their career. An aggressive, experienced military attorney can demonstrate to a board when a poorly executed investigation has wrongly found misconduct.
If you need to know how to fight a SHARP complaint or you are facing an AdSep Board for Sexual Harassment or a Board of Inquiry for Sexual Harassment, call us now at (757) 504-2815 or contacts us here. Check out our case results to see the many success stories we have had with adverse separations.