As official Washington is captivated by the drama surrounding decades-old allegations of sexual misconduct against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, a former soldier whose career was cut short by similar allegations is trying to get out a message that accusations are not the same as the truth.
Back in 2013, Wil Riggins was an Army colonel who had been nominated for general, when Susan Shannon wrote on her blog that Riggins raped her at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point back in 1986, according to the Daily Mail.
Four years later, after Riggins had been denied his promotion based on the claim, a jury heard Riggins’ suit against Shannon and awarded him $8.4 million in damages, according to The Washington Post.
With that as the background, Riggins has been using his Twitter account to remind those rushing to judgment in the Kavanaugh case that regardless of what an accuser says, the truth may be very different.
Most of his posts are retweets of others who cite his case as a cautionary tale against believing any accuser at face value.
— ?? HB ?? (@Norsk24) September 24, 2018
Jury orders woman to pay Army colonel she accused of rape $8.4 million https://t.co/0P3TDACymi via @MailOnline This is what happens and what should happen when you intentionally ruin a man's life. #DearProfessorFord #Kavanaugh
— Christy Waters (@ThatChristyChic) September 20, 2018
Riggins said that even though he was exonerated, he still suffered irreparable damage from the false claim.
This journey we’ve been on the last four years,” Riggins said, “it’s been a nightmare. … The large dollar amount is meaningless. All I was looking for was the opportunity to be vindicated, to set the record straight, to take every action to get my reputation back to where it was before the 15th of July, when she published that false accusation.”
Shannon entered West Point in 1983 and resigned in 1986. She never mentioned being raped until 2013. In a blog post, she named Riggins as her rapist and said she was drunk at the time. Despite Riggins’s denials, she has maintained that she told the truth in her blog post.
“Frankly the day I started saying his name was the day I started blaming him instead of myself,” Shannon told WJLA.
Riggins admitted he and Shannon had a sexual encounter in 1983, but had no relationship after that time. Shannon called that “a compete fabrication” and said Riggins “smugly admitted he did indeed rape” her.
However, after the verdict she did take down the posts she made about Riggins.
Stephen Horvath, Riggins’s lawyer said Riggins was able to win because, “Everything in that blog post was provably false and could not have happened.”
Riggins said that his effort to fight back was aimed at sending a message to those who make false accusations.
“This will discourage other false accusations but would not discourage legitimate accusations of sexual assault,” he said.
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