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United States v. Coble

2017 WL 712787

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United States v. Coble

United States Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals

2017 WL 712787

Facts

Ensign H. was a trainee pilot in the United States Coast Guard’s flight school. Navy Lieutenant Russell Coble (defendant) was a pilot who requested to be Ensign H.’s instructor. During flight school, Coble and H. had a sexually charged conversation that escalated into phone sex and flirtatious behavior. After H.’s last training flight, H. informed Coble that they were never going to have sex, and Coble acknowledged her statement. At their hotel, Coble, H., and the other instructors consumed alcohol, and Coble left H. his room card. H. took the key but texted Coble to decline his proposition. Coble went to H.’s hotel room and kissed H. when she opened the door. H. told Coble no, but Coble forced her into sexual intercourse, holding her wrists down during the act. H. reported the sexual assault on the same day and went on emergency leave. H. then made a pretext phone call to Coble, recorded by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS). On the call, Coble acknowledged that H. said no and stop but claimed that he did not force her to engage in sexual activity. Coble also stated that he thought H. was joking around and that she wanted to sexually engage with him. The NCIS interviewed Coble after the call, and Coble denied going to H.’s hotel room and having sex. The government (plaintiff) charged Coble with sexual assault. Coble was found guilty of sexual assault and appealed the findings and sentence to the appellate court. Among other grounds for appeal, the appellate court addressed the strength of the evidence of guilt.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Hutchison, J.)

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