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Air Force convenes court-martial for former command chief *Day 3 update

Posted 1/24/2011   Updated 1/26/2011 Email story   Print story


by 375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

1/24/2011 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- Day 3 update - Jan. 26, 2011

The prosecution continued today as their final witness took the stand. This female Staff Sergeant, who was a Senior Airman at the time of the incident, testified about her relationship with Chief Gurney and to her desire to be hired as an administrative assistant for him, a job in which she was interviewed for, but in which she was not hired. She also testified to the allegations of unwanted sexual advances via text messaging.

The prosecution then played for the court a two-hour interview between Chief Gurney and members from the Office of Special Investigations. After being confronted with the alleged charge of maltreatment under Article 93 of the UCMJ, the chief admitted to several other sexual liaisons and exchanges of sexting with multiple female Airmen, all who were junior in rank to him.

The prosecution then rested, and the defense proceeded by calling three witness who testified as to their opinion of the integrity of the Senior Airman who brought charges against the chief. A male section commander and two former female supervisors testified--one via a video deposition--that they felt the Senior Airman could not be trusted.

The prosecution then called the Senior Airman's current supervisor, a female First Lieutenant, who testified that during her nine months of supervision, the Senior Airman proved trustworthy. The Senior Airman was also recalled to the stand to rebut testimony of her former supervisors and to further clarify interactions with the section commander.

The defense rested and court will convene tomorrow at 8:30 a.m. for jury instructions, closing statements and the six-member panel will deliberate.

Day 2 update--Jan. 25, 2011:
Opening statements were provided by Maj. Patricia Gruen, lead prosecution for the government, in stating that the jury would hear six witnesses testify that Chief Gurney "victimized the Air Force." Defense lead counsel, Maj. Gwendolyn Beitz, stated that while the chief pursued unprofessional relationships, none were coerced and that he did not misuse his official position as stated in the charges against him.

The first witness, a female technical sergeant, testified about the relationship she had with Chief Gurney and about an e-mail he had sent to her superintendent after she said she could not go to an upcoming Air Force Association symposium that he was attending.

The second witness, a female chief master sergeant and superintendent of the first witness during this time period, was questioned about the content of the e-mail that specifically requested the sergeant for her AFSO21 knowledge, after it was known to Chief Gurney that the sergeant would not be able to attend. The sergeant did not attend the symposium. This witness also testified to her suspicions regarding the relationship between the two.

The third witness, a female Senior Airman, testified to the allegations of sexual harassment and unwanted sexual advances. She testified as to the nature of the circumstances that led to her disclosure to investigators about the texting between she and the chief. This disclosure resulted in the investigation that ultimately removed the chief from his position as command chief for AFMC and the Air Force levying 20 charges of UCMJ violations.

The fourth witness of the day, a female Master Sergeant, was questioned about the hiring process for the AFMC headquarters staff for a new administrative assistant. It is alleged that Chief Gurney used his official position to hire a female Senior Airman with whom he was also pursuing an unprofessional relationship with.
The fifth and final witness of the day for the government was a male chief master sergeant who had direct knowledge of the alleged charges involving the hiring of the female Senior Airman.

The court resumes tomorrow at 8:30 a.m. It is expected that the government will call its final witness and then the defense will present their witnesses.


The Air Force convened its court-martial trial today against Chief Master Sgt. William Gurney, the former command chief for Air Force Materiel Command located at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, who is charged with 19 violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Chief Gurney pled guilty to 13 violations of dereliction of duty and sexual misconduct, and the judge, Col. Thomas Cumbie, dismissed an obstruction of justice charge. For the remaining five violations that deal with sexual harassment and misuse of official position, the chief requested a trial by a jury of officers. The remainder of court proceedings today dealt with the questioning and selection of those jury members. By day's end, six officers, ranging in rank from captain to colonel, were selected for the trial.

The specifications that Chief Gurney pled guilty to are:
--Seven violations of Article 92 for dereliction in duty for failing to maintain a professional relationship with seven different female Airmen, all who were junior in rank to him;
--One violation of Article 92, for wrongful misuse of government property for other than official purposes;
--One violation of Article 120, indecent conduct with a female master sergeant; and
--Four violations of Article 134, for committing adultery with four separate female Airmen all who were junior in rank to him.

Chief Gurney pled not guilty to:
--Two violations of Article 93, maltreatment (sexual harassment);
--One violation of Article 120, unwanted sexual contact; and
--Two violations of Article 134, misuse of official position.

Court will resume tomorrow at 9 a.m.

See related stories:
Air Force completes Article 32 Hearing for former AFMC command chief *FINAL UPDATE

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