A woman who waited thirty years to accuse an Army Colonel of sexually assaulting her while they were Cadets was ordered to pay a total of $8.4 million in damages after the false accusation destroyed his reputation and military career.
The case, the details of which bear a striking similarity to the accusations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, provides a precedent should his accusers be found to have made false claims against him.
Susan Shannon, 52, who now lives in Everett, Washington, first alleged on her blog that she was sexually assaulted by Army Colonel David ‘Wil’ Riggins in 1986, while they were both cadets at West Point.
She said she waited three decades to come forward about her experience because of the army’s ‘code of silence’.
But Riggins, also 52, who vehemently denied the claims, said the false allegations had cost him a sparkling military career.
The combat veteran from Alexandria had been on the cusp of being appointed to general in 2013, when Army leaders saw Shannon’s rape allegation on her blog.
His promotion was snatched away and Riggins says his name was dragged through the mud after ‘Susan Shannon decided to play judge and jury on her own.’
The decorated colonel denied all claims, telling ABC 7 On Your Side at the time: ‘I did not rape Susan Shannon. I did not sexually assault Susan Shannon. Every aspect of (her) story is verifiably false.’
The jury has now ordered Shannon to pay $3.4 million in compensatory damages for injury to his reputation and lost wages, and $5 million in punitive damages, ‘to make sure nothing like this will ever happen again,’ according to the Washington Post.
Shannon alleged she was raped by her former cadet classmate at the United States Military Academy in New York in 1986. She dropped out shortly afterwards.
Now a jewelry designer and a mother living on the West Coast, she added that the pressure in the army to keep quiet and not turn in her peers meant that she did not even report the alleged rape at her exit interview.
She made the claims on her blog Short Little Rebel in 2013 – which followed the announcement that Colonel Riggins had been nominated for general.
Shannon denied having any knowledge of his nomination until she was contacted by Army officials investigating her blog post.