CAAF reverses its own precedent based on the Statute of Limitations for rape.
On 6 February 2018, the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (CAAF) reversed its own precedent in United States v. Mangahas by determining that rape of an adult is not punishable by death and therefore has a five year statute of limitation. In October 2015, Air Force Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Mangahas was charged with a single specification of rape alleged to have occurred in 1997, when Mangahas was a cadet at the Coast Guard Academy. The alleged victim was a fellow cadet who reported her allegation at the time but refused to participate in an investigation. She made a new report in 2014 to the Department of Veterans Affairs. Then, a new investigation was initiated, and the charge was preferred eighteen years after the alleged offense. In 1977, the Supreme Court ruled that an adult could not be put to death for raping another adult. Regardless of this ruling, in 1998, in Willenbring v. Neurauter, CAAF held that “rape is an ‘offense punishable by death’ for purposes of exempting it from the 5-year statute of limitations of Article 43(b)(1).” This meant that there was absolutely no statute of limitations on a charge of rape. Therefore, it did not matter that the female in Mangahas waited over fifteen years to push towards prosecution. In this Air Force case, CAAF reversed the precedent they set in Willenbring. In Mangahas, the Court held that Willenbring was a poor holding because the accused could not be punished by death due to the Supreme Court’s holding in 1977. The Court then explained that without a punishment of death being permissible, the statute of limitations is five years. Therefore, LTC Mangahas cannot be tried for this eighteen-year-old allegation. If you or your loved one is facing a court-martial or want to appeal a court-martial, you need an advocate who knows all the ins and outs of the law. I have a great deal of experience in trying court-martials and appealing them to both the service appellate courts and to CAAF. Call today and we will talk through your case. To speak to an experienced court-martial and military defense attorney, call Bill Cassara at 706-860-5769 for a free consultation.