All charges have been dismissed against Army Col. Jon Meredith, who had been accused of making unwanted sexual advances toward the wife of an officer who was away on a field training exercise, said Army Maj. Brian Harris, a spokesman for III Armored Corps.
Meredith was initially accused of kissing and groping the woman at her husband’s home on July 23, 2022. Subsequently, Meredith was fired in October 2022 as commander of the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Cavazos, Texas.
Army Lt. Gen. Sean Bernabe, commanding general of III Corps, dismissed a charge of conduct unbecoming an officer against Meredith on Oct. 13. Harris said. Last month, Bernabe decided to drop a charge of abusive sexual contact against Meredith.
“The Commanding General, after reviewing all of the evidence, determined that while there was clear evidence that Col. Meredith behaved in a manner that was unbecoming an officer in July 2022, this misconduct was most appropriately addressed through alternate disposition, such as through nonjudicial punishment or administrative action,” Harris told Task & Purpose on Monday.
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Meredith’s attorney, Sherilyn A. Bunn, told Task & Purpose that charges against her client were dismissed based on text messages discovered by the defense that indicate the alleged victim and her husband may have conspired to falsely accuse Meredith of sexual assault because the woman’s husband didn’t like an officer evaluation report that he received from Meredith.
“Generally, the text messages between the accuser and her husband were about the husband’s OER [officer evaluation report]; how he could ‘blow things up’ if he didn’t like it; and the decision to ‘go nuclear’ once the husband received his OER and decided COL Meredith’s rater comments would negatively impact his rating and his likelihood of getting promoted ‘below the zone,’ Bunn said on Monday.
This evidence stems from an investigation into Meredith’s wife that the defense only recently gained access to, Bunn said.
Col. Ann Meredith was relieved as commander of the 89th Military Support Brigade at Fort Cavazos, and she later received administrative action. Stars and Stripes reported that she was fired for allegedly sending a text message that could be viewed as trying to interfere with the investigation into her husband.
Agents with the Army Criminal Investigation Division, or CID, conducted a forensic extraction of the cell phone belonging to the husband of the woman who accused Meredith of sexual assault to preserve messages that CID thought were relevant to the investigation into Col. Ann Meredith, Bunn said.
Meredith’s attorneys discovered this evidence when one of Meredith’s military defense counsels was granted access to Col. Ann Meredith’s CID investigation file, Bunn said. The defense team then hired an expert consultant to review the raw data taken from the husband’s phone.
“That information assisted the Defense in identifying conversations between the accuser and her husband that, in the context of other messages sent and received in the same time period with other people, confirmed from the defense perspective that this was a false allegation,” Bunn said.
Stars and Stripes first reported on Oct. 14 that Bernabe had dismissed the remaining charge against Meredith.
Harris confirmed that Bernabe made his decision to dismiss the charge after the defense presented new evidence on Sept. 28. Still, Harris declined to specify exactly what the evidence was other than “it did not exonerate Col. Meredith from the conduct unbecoming an officer from July 2022.”
Bernabe is taking “the appropriate administrative action” in the case, Harris said. Information about such administrative actions is not considered publicly releasable under the Defense Department’s directive on the Privacy Act.
“The evidence in this case clearly demonstrated that Col. Meredith’s actions in July 2022 were conduct unbecoming an officer,” Harris said. “Nothing in the new evidence changes this fact. However, there was an assessment of multiple factors which guide every commander in deciding on appropriate means of addressing allegations of misconduct. Among these factors are the impact and appropriateness of alternative disposition options, including nonjudicial punishment or administrative action.”
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