Wrongfully Convicted

A story of malicious prosecution.

 Thomas24

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PFC Thomas A. Chestnut Jr.

PFC Thomas A. Chestnut Jr. is a loving and caring young man who has always had strong desire to help people. Thomas had served as a lifeguard at the YMCA where he had the experience of saving a life. This gave Thomas the desire and drive to do more, help more people.

At age 23, Thomas decided to join the army and become a combat medic. He wanted to help save the lives of soldiers that risk their lives for the rest of us.

In April of 2012, Thomas went off to basic training at Fort Benning, Georgia. He graduated and was shipped to Fort Sam Houston, Texas for his Advanced Individual Training (AIT), to become a combat medic.

While in Fort Sam Houston, Thomas was placed in living quarters with an individual that did not like him. Both Thomas and the roommate put in for a change of quarters. There was no other space available so they had to try to make it work. Thomas knew his roommate was uncomfortable with the fact that Thomas was a homosexual. Thomas tried to be as respectful as he could about it. He made a point to not say or do anything that would offend his roommate.

They argued over many things during the time they shared barracks. One argument led to a physical confrontation where the roommate attempted to put Thomas in some sort of choke hold. Thomas got free and left their room to report the incident. Thomas slept somewhere else that night.

One evening, some time later, Thomas and his roommate were sitting in their room watching an anime movie. Another soldier, an openly bi-sexual man in the same training course as Thomas and his roommate, came over to visit with them as he had done a few times before. On this occasion he was giving Thomas indications that he wanted to be alone with him. Thomas and this soldier had discussed the possibility of dating in the past. After a bit of this soldier’s flirting with him, and attempting to show a disinterest in the program Thomas and his roommate were watching, Thomas asks his roommate for some privacy.

The roommate gets up and goes to take a shower. The soldier proceeds to come on to Thomas in an aggressive manner and lets Thomas know he wants to have intercourse with him. After a few minutes Thomas goes to the bathroom door and asks his roommate for a condom. The roommate tells him “you know where they are” and Thomas gets one out of the roommate’s night stand. Thomas and the soldier proceeded to have sex.

Afterward, Thomas informs his roommate they are done and the roommate finishes up his shower. Thomas goes to take a shower and the other soldier lies down on Thomas’s bed. When Thomas gets out of the shower the soldier is asleep so he sits down and continues to watch anime with his roommate. After a while the two got tired so Thomas wakes the soldier and asks him if he is staying the night. The soldier decides to go back to his room.

The rest of the time at Fort Sam Houston, things continue to be the same between Thomas and his roommate. The other soldier and Thomas still kind of hung out. Some time later the soldier fails out of his course and is moved to a different MOS (Military Occupational Specialty). Thomas and the roommate complete their course and are moved to different posts. Thomas goes to Fort Hood, Texas.

A few months later, some time in early 2013, the roommate with some of his friends get caught with too much alcohol in his room and he decides to tell the authorities he needed the alcohol because he was dealing with the emotional stress of witnessing a sexual assault while in AIT at Fort Sam Houston. This is the first time this supposed assault is mentioned to authorities by anyone, thus starting the ball rolling to ruin Thomas’ career and future.

A short time later Thomas finds out he’s been flagged for sexual assault. He has an idea of who it must be because he only had sex with one soldier. He is confused and mortified. This could ruin his life’s dreams. His life is put on hold while the government gathers evidence to prosecute him. He tries to do his duties and focus on his future.

The Criminal Investigation Division (CID) questions the soldier Thomas had been with. The soldier admits that he took his prescription of Ambien before formation that evening in preparation for turning in early that evening. He remembers going to Thomas’ room that evening, sometime after formation, entering the room, tripping over the roommate then deciding to relax on a pile of clothing on the floor. He doesn’t remember anything after that as he ‘blacked out’. He had ‘blacked out’ at least once before from taking Ambien and had not had any memory of what happened.

Thomas had no knowledge of what this medication was or that the soldier had taken this medication, and no indication that the soldier was under the influence of any drugs or alcohol during their night together. As far as Thomas knew the sex was consensual and the soldier was the instigator and aggressor during the whole thing.

Thomas was formally charged on February 20, 2014. In April he had his Article 32 hearing to determine if they were going to proceed with the court martial. Even though the roommate is apparently caught in lies during testimony and the other soldier states that Thomas didn’t do anything the soldier didn’t want him to during his testimony, they proceeded to take it to court martial.

The court martial was scheduled for June 23, 2014. During the court martial only three witness are called to testify; the roommate, the soldier, and an expert on the effects of Ambien. The defense(court appointed JAG attorneys) called no witnesses and convinced Thomas that he should not take the stand. At no time during the trial was Thomas’s side truly told.

In a single day, they tried and convicted Thomas of sexual assault. It took a panel of eight military officers less than an hour to decide his future.

Links to publications;

Family, judge convinced of soldier’s innocence in sex assault case

Chestnut case raises questions

Could Dripping Springs soldier go free after sex assault conviction?

21 thoughts on “Wrongfully Convicted”

  1. I feel his conviction was wrong and should be over turned. This is just another way of showing how justice is not served the way it should be. Innocent people in prison as the guilty run free. Pfc. Thomas A. Chestnut Jr. Has my support fully.

  2. Me and Thomas started dating a couple months after he found out about the charges and I could tell that it took a toll on him both physically and mentally. when we where spending time together I did whatever I could to keep his mind off of it. But me and my family that has meet Thomas are do what we can to try and help get this fixed. A wonderful and loving man like Thomas should not have to go through something like this.

    1. Thank you Nikolai. Sorry I didn’t reply sooner. I know you care for him very much and he cares for you. Tell your family that we appreciate all they’ve tried and are trying to do for him.

  3. I know Thomas in basic training and AIT, I definitely do not see him being sexually aggressive in any manner. He was a good guy and usually stayed away from the drama. I just saw all this, if there is anything I can do let me know.

    1. Thank you Jonathan. I appreciate you posting. Right now what we need is for everyone to get the word out that an innocent man has been convicted and it needs to be fixed.

  4. Melissa, this is James. I just recently heard about this. I’m completely aghast that this would happen. If I had any way to help I would. Is there any way I can keep in contact with you guys and stay informed about what’s going on?

  5. Hi, im just wondering if theres any chance you can get me in contact with thomas. I care about his well being an would just like to talk to him again. My email is [snip]. or phone [snip]. Thanks so much 🙂

  6. I just found out. I thought it was “fishy”, how he just dropped out of existence.
    I had known Thomas for a couple of years before he joined the military, I didn’t know about his personal orientation.
    Thomas was never aggressive and he was always conscious of other people . For the time I spent around him, he was a great guy.

  7. I found out that the charges against Thomas have been dropped. I did not get this information from Thomas so I don’t have all the details. Right now we are waiting for them to do all the paper work and to see if the government will appeal this decision. I doubt they will as this was a bogus case to begin with. I am not happy that I first heard about this from someone I do not trust or want anything to do with. I did check with someone more reliable so I feel confident it is true. With the charges being dropped he should receive an HONORABLE discharge. I will let you know when I know more.

  8. So what I know right now is, the government has 28 days to appeal this decision. I don’t know if he has to stay in there during this whole time or if they will let him out as soon as they finish the paper work. He will be getting back pay for all this time and we plan to have some media at the airport when he gets out. As soon as I know the exact date and time I will contact Robert Maxwell at KXAN and Rose Thayer from Killeen Daily Herald/Fort Hood Herald so they can do a follow-up story on him since they did the original stories. More information will be posted as soon as I have it. Also I will be updating his story at thomas.vop2.net if anyone is interested in sharing their thoughts and stories. Please feel free to share this with everyone. Thomas is not the only soldier going through this and we need to help them all.

  9. I just talked to Thomas. He’s been told that he may be released today or it may be up to 2 months. I’m hoping for a little more notice to get everything together but the sooner the better and I’m not going to complain if it’s today. I am very excited and looking forward to giving him a great big hug.

    1. Wonderful news! I am so happy for you and your family! He will never get the time back that he lost but I pray that his transition goes well. You and your family are in our thoughts and prayers.

    2. Would you please contact me privately? I’m dating someone who served time with Thomas and he is getting released in February. He was actually talking to me tonight about him and how he was excite that Thomas is on his way home. I would love to chat with you. my email is (address removed for security purposes)
      so glad Thomas is out!

  10. Hey! I just got an email that Thomas was being released! That’s fantastic news. I’m so happy to hear that this entire mess finally came to a proper conclusion. Believe me, I know just how badly all this could have ended up. Please contact me when you get a chance and let me know what’s going on now.

  11. Hello James, It’s good to hear from you. We were just talking about you the other day. I will contact you in the next day or so and give you as much information as I can. I know you understand. I am so sorry for all you have had to go through. I hope you and your family are doing well. Have a wonderful new year.

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