Sexual assault claims against Fort Gordon doctor result in one conviction

Stephen Carpenter Jr. of Court & Carpenter, a military defense law firm, defends Hansen in sexual assault claims. Hansen found “Not Guilty”, only results in 1 conviction.
Sea Stachura and Jozsef Papp Augusta Chronicle | USA TODAY NETWORK

In U.S. Army Sgt. Adriana Meczywor’s view, what her neurologist was doing was sexual in nature, not medical. “He held the stethoscope initially over my shirt, but he said he couldn’t hear my heart beat,” she told The Augusta Chronicle in late April. h Meczywor (pronounced MESS-whar) was eight months pregnant and experiencing headaches and dizziness. Her obstetrician had referred her to neurologist Dr. Brett Hansen, a U.S. Army captain who had arrived at Fort Gordon’s Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center a few months before, in July of 2017. h She arrived at the October appointment hot, another effect of pregnancy, and wearing a thin T-shirt. She didn’t understand why he couldn’t hear her heart beat.

military-laws

Assault

“He moved inside my bra and the whole time was cupping my breast. This went on for an hour,” she said. That entire time, she said, he leaned in close, one hand cupping the underside of her breast, the other moving the stethoscope across her chest. “No doctor has ever done that to me,” she said. He asked her to schedule a follow-up appointment, and she did, but almost immediately canceled it. “I canceled several times,” she said. She said she received four calls, two from the scheduler, and she would make an appointment and then cancel. “He even called personally, telling me he wanted me to go ahead and reschedule. Even after my OB had approved me for
bed rest, he kept saying he would like to see me,” she said. Meczywor felt confident this was sexual assault, but she didn’t believe it
was worth the hassle and potential stigma of reporting it.

“It’s not the first time that someone in the military has done something inappropriate” to her, she said. She had her baby, now four years old, and her vertigo stopped, so she had no need to see Hansen or any other neurologist. But three years after that first appointment, Meczywor received a phone call about Hansen. Another female soldier had reported that Hansen sexually assaulted her. Had anything inappropriate happened during Meczywor’s visit? Yes, she said, and told her story. For a while, she said she didn’t hear anything else about it, then she received an email from the office of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division’s Special Victims Unit. Supervising Special Agent Larry Ervin apologized to her for the lack of communication. “The investigation is rather extensive and you are not the only victim within the investigation at this time,” the email read. “We are actively working to try to complete remaining investigative leads
before a decision is made by the military on possible adjudication.” Another two years would pass before Hansen was charged.

‘Probable cause’ found for 9 cases, 3 ultimately tried

According to emails provided to The Augusta Chronicle, the Army’s investigation resulted in a total of 11 accusers coming forward. “We investigated a total of 7 criminal offenses, that were either Assault or Sexual Assault in nature for the 11 victims, 4 of these offenses were determined to be Probable Cause/Founded; with at least 1 offense as Probable Cause/Founded for 9 of the 11 listed victims,” the email read. In other words, 11 individuals said Hansen had assaulted or sexually assaulted them. Army investigators determined that a reasonable person would believe Hansen had violated four military regulations with nine of the victims. One of the charges was on Article 120, Abusive Sexual Contact. Whether Hansen would face charges from all of the accusers would now be up to the prosecutor and the individuals’ willingness to testify.

Ultimately, the Army started its trial with seven counts between two charges on four of those nine cases. Three of the accusers were enlisted — a private, private first class and a corporal — and one was an officer, a lieutenant colonel.

In each case, the charge sheets, provided to the Chronicle by two of the victims and the Army, accused Hansen of similar behavior in similar circumstances. Hansen “touched directly or through clothing the breast and buttocks” as well as the genitals of these
soldiers on seven separate office visits.

Similar stories among victims

Online records for Hansen are sparse. A profile for “Brett M. Hansen DO” on the social networking site for health professionals, Doximity, is Hansen’s, according to one of his accusers. The account, created in 2015, indicates that he attended Lindenwood University in Missouri on a full scholarship for wrestling then transferred to the University of Utah where he earned a bachelor’s in exercise and sports science. He then attended Touro University Nevada College of Osteopathic Medicine, graduating in 2013. His medical license is from the state of Nebraska — military doctors can hold licenses outside of the state in which they practice. According to officials at Fort Gordon and Doximity, he did his residency in neurology at Joint Base LewisMcChord, Washington, and stayed there until 2017, when he came to Augusta. The profile lists him as Chief of Neurology at Eisenhower and affiliated with multiple hospitals in the State of Washington, and Augusta University Medical Center. AU Health does not list Hansen as a medical provider.

While Meczywor’s encounter took place soon after Hansen’s arrival at Fort Gordon, it was over a year later that another soldier, Pfc. Brittany Renton, reported that she was assaulted by Hansen. Renton joined the military, inspired by her sister in the U.S. Marine Corps. A few months into her Army career, Renton had a seizure following a wisdom tooth surgery. Doctors told her to follow up with a neurologist. When she got to the exam room on Aug. 29, 2018, Renton met with another doctor first, she said. He asked her questions about what happened, tested her reflexes, blood pressure. The doctor left, and she waited in the room. “I was just sitting in there, and Dr. Hansen comes in the room by himself. He shuts the door, locks it and he starts asking me weird questions like ‘Am I married? Do I have a boyfriend? Do I have any kids?’ “ Renton said. “Nothing to do with a seizure. He never asked me what happened. He never asked me if I had any headaches, no questions that were involving what happened.”


According to the charge sheet, Hansen made similar remarks to another enlisted soldier. “Your husband is a lucky man.” “I think about you when I’m not at work.” “If your marriage doesn’t work out, we could talk.” Hansen asked Renton to take off her blouse, belt and boots. She thought it was normal. She said he didn’t call for a nurse. “I did all that thinking he is going to check for certain things,” she said. “This was one of my first interactions with an officer. I had five months in the Army. I was straight out of basic training.” Renton said after she took her clothes off, he told her to stand facing the wall and turned off the lights. Her back was facing Hansen. He stood behind her and pulled her pants down. “My butt was showing,” she said. Without wearing gloves, he touched and groped her breasts and butt, she said. Renton said Hansen kept telling her to relax.


In the trial, Renton said Hansen’s defense counsel did not dispute his actions but instead referred to his actions
as negligent and a lapse in judgment. Hansen’s lead attorney, Stephen Carpenter Jr. of Court & Carpenter, a military defense law firm, did not confirm or deny how Hansen’s actions were described during trial. He did respond to Renton’s accusations generally.
“In the case of Ms. Renton, my client treated her as a Osteopathic Physician with a professional affinity, training and
experience in Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment, which is undoubtedly why the panel found my client “Not Guilty” of all of Ms. Renton’s claims,” Carpenter said. “I don’t know how long I was in there, it felt like an hour,” she said. “I really couldn’t see anything. He gets up, and he turns on the lights.” Renton, already on base, went directly to her commanding officer. “I just kept
saying to my drill sergeant, ‘I just went in for my head, why was he touching me?’ ”Renton said her drill sergeant told her
to take lunch to calm down. “They asked me what I wanted to see happen and I told them I didn’t think he should see be
able to see patients,” she said.


‘SHARP’ing didn’t trigger investigation

To Renton’s mind, she had publicly ‘SHARP’d’ an officer, triggering an investigation. “In Basic (Training) you’re taught that if you ‘SHARP’ you basically ruin the guy’s career,” she said. What might he do in retaliation, she wondered? SHARP refers to the Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention program. SHARP began in 2008 in response to revelations of rampant sexual assault and harassment in the military. The program includes training on sexual assault and harassment, mental and physical support for people who report assault or harassment, and a special investigation unit. The program has had limited impact on the prevention of sexual harassment and assault, according to research conducted by the Department of Defense and the Government Accountability Office, though reporting has steadily risen.

In Renton’s case, submitting a SHARP report didn’t trigger an investigation, but she didn’t know that. That lack of clarity is a well-documented problem. A 2019 report by the Department of Defense’s Inspector General found that of 82 sexual assault reports,
only five victims were definitely asked if they wanted their cases prosecuted. In 56 of those cases, investigators reported that they had asked, but they could not provide evidence of the victims’ responses. Renton’s case did not get prosecuted because it was filed as “restricted” – not “unrestricted” – and kept private. “They gave me one option, no other. I didn’t know enough about SHARP to
know,” she said.

sexual-assault-military


Renton told her father what happened and he came to visit her. Otherwise, she said, she had no one to talk to. Shortly after, Renton was transferred to South Korea. She said she was afraid that Hansen was going to get himself transferred to her duty station. She deleted all her social media and everything she could to make sure Hansen couldn’t find her. In the witness statement she read at trial, she said in part, “For the next two years, I lived in so much fear; fear of men, of officers, fear of people I’m supposed to trust. I couldn’t be alone in a
room with another guy, I couldn’t have doors shut around me or I’d panic, I still to this day sleep with the lights on. In a real sense, I was scared for my life – and I never wanted to see another doctor ever again.”


The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has reported a strong correlation between military sexual trauma and suicidal thoughts among victims without a history of mental health problems. Renton tried to kill herself in April.

She was found by her first sergeant. That was when she learned Hansen hadn’t been alerted to her complaint and no investigation had begun. As a result, she changed the status of her SHARP report, making it public to the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division.
By then, the Army had already begun an investigation. Lt. Col. Dean Carter, U.S. Army Cyber Center of Excellence director of Public Affairs told The Augusta Chronicle an investigation began Dec. 20, 2018. He declined to comment on what prompted the investigation.

“(Hansen) was reassigned administrative duties not involving patient care at Eisenhower Medical Center as soon as the allegations were reported,” Carter wrote in an email.

Investigative process took time


The process wasn’t swift, though.Renton said she retold her story of abuse at least 10 times: via video, over the phone and in person. Meczywor said she probably told her story to four different investigators. “Why did it take them four years? … They kept saying they were getting close,” Meczywor said. “Then they’d PCS [get a permanent change of station] and we had to start all over again.” Meczywor said. Military personnel are often relocated and reassigned, and, as Meczywor learned in March 2020, the case agent she’d spoken with at first, Special Agent Justin Baxley, had left Fort Gordon. That was when Ervin, the supervising special agent, contacted her. “I was the supervisor of the investigation and upon SA Baxley’s move, I decided to take the case over and work it until completion.” Ervin said in his first email. He also offered her access to counseling and other services, which Meczywor said she hadn’t known about. She heard from Ervin again four months later, in August 2020, stating that he had received the final legal opinion and would be writing the final report within the next 30 days.

He again reminded her there were 11 victims listed in the investigation. Investigators had found probable cause to pursue sexual assault charges stemming from nine of those accusers. Now it was up to the prosecutor and the accusers’ willingness to move forward. “Please anticipate the legal/prosecutorial decisions of how to proceed from this point to move quickly over the next several months and you should anticipate contact from CPT [Michael] Marchman or a representative of his office if your part of this investigation was closed as Probable Cause/Founded.”


It was seven months later, in March 2021, that Hansen was presented with his charges: one count of adultery (UCMJ 134) and eight counts of abusive sexual contact (UCMJ Article 120). Then, in June, two of those sexual assault charges were “dismissed without
prejudice,” meaning the court dismissed them, but they could be brought again. Carter, with the U.S. Army Cyber Center, explained via email that a number of factors influenced its pace.

“After the allegations surfaced, information was received concerning similar allegations in another state. A copy of the state investigation was requested, obtained, and examined for possible prosecution. The COVID-19 pandemic seriously delayed the completion of the
investigation. Once charges were prepared, proceedings in Federal courts were significantly delayed until COVID-19 mitigation efforts could ensure publicly safe proceedings,” he wrote. The prosecutor overseeing the case, Marchman, had taken a position at West Point earlier that year, according to his LinkedIn profile. Prosecution was then reassigned to Capt. Sierra Tyrell, in Washington D.C.. Tyrell, according to the court docket, was the only counsel for the four women’s cases. Hansen had two lawyers, private attorney: Carpenter and JAG Corp Senior Defense Counsel Cpt. Michael Barrett.

The trial that was supposed to happen in short order hung over Renton and Meczywor, who remained in the service. Hansen pleaded not guilty in November 2021. The trial began in March 2022, a year after Hansen was charged and three and a half years after Renton first
reported her experience.

Soldiers feel justice wasn’t served

Meczywor had not wanted to participate in Hansen’s trial, initially, she said, because she didn’t want to be stigmatized. She believed she would face consequences from other soldiers, especially in her all-male unit. “They would treat me differently because I SHARP’d,” she said. “So they’re going to think that, ‘Oh, she’s going to do it to me.’ “ She was publicly accusing an officer of sexual assault, and everyone in her unit was going to find out.


“We were subpoenaed,” she said, and told the accusers would need to temporarily relocate during the trial. “I had to explain to my command team what I was doing. I couldn’t say where, but I had to say why.” Ahead of the trial, Meczywor and Renton were sequestered together with the other enlisted soldier and the ranking officer accusing Hansen. For Renton, it was the first time she was talking with other accusers. “It was really shocking because all of our stories were the same,” Renton said. “I was the only one that didn’t go back to the appointment. A couple of the girls had multiple appointments with him so they had to endure it multiple times.”

According to Renton and Meczywor, one of those soldiers decided not to testify, so Hansen was then tried on five charges of abusive sexual contact instead of six, and one count of adultery. Hansen had a general court martial trial, which is the most serious of the
three types, and requires a panel of eight or more jurists. Renton remembers all of them being high ranking officers; two were women.
A medical expert witness testified, according to Renton, that there was “no medical reasoning,” for Hansen to touch the women as he did. “I was there because of stuff above my shoulders. All of us were,” Renton said. But Hansen, Renton learned at the hearing, had added paperwork to her records saying she was there for back pain. She said she was not. “They said we were confusing medical treatment for being touched,” Meczywor said.


Carpenter told The Augusta Chronicle via email that they also brought an expert who testified on Hansen’s behalf. That individual’s testimony, “carefully explained Dr. Hansen had a legitimate medical purpose for nearly all of the charged acts he was facing,” Carpenter
wrote.


Renton said she believes the panel gave more credence to the officer’s accusations than to those of the enlisted members. The trial lasted a week. The jury, according to Carter, deliberated for hours. They found Hansen guilty of one charge. He was sentenced to 18 months confinement and dismissal from the Army.


Carter previously told The Chronicle that Hansen will serve his sentence at Fort Leavenworth Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. But Hansen doesn’t turn up in inmate searches. “(Hansen) is appealing the sole charge upon which he was found guilty,”
Carpenter said of his client in an email. Bill E. Cassara, a military lawyer based in Augusta, is Hansen’s appellate attorney. In response to an interview request, Cassara told The Augusta Chronicle via email that he may not be able to speak to Hansen “for a couple of weeks.”
Carpenter and Cassara were both asked twice via email about Hansen’s incarceration status, but neither responded to the question.
Additionally, Hansen still holds his medical license. According to the Nebraska Division of Public Health, Hansen’s active license is set to expire Oct. 1, 2022. Hansen’s military trial did not trigger a license review.

Meczywor and Renton were told they could file a medical malpractice suit or issue a complaint.

sexual-assault-claims

Were you assaulted?

Any potential victims who were not contacted by Army CID investigators can reach out to Fort Gordon’s CID office at (706) 791-4611.

One conviction: Progress or ‘waste of time’?

Even when military sexual assault accusers come forward, like in this case, prosecuting hasn’t resulted in many trials, according to Department of Defense data. Service members have made slightly less than 40,000 unrestricted, or public, reports of sexual assault in the past seven years. Of those, 8% went to trial, according to the National Institute of Military Justice, a nongovernmental organization that produces research on the military justice system.

The post’s author, Don Christensen, wrote that Department of Defense data showed only “1,242 (cases) being convicted of an Article 120 offense or 3% of all reports.” In fiscal year 2020, the number of convictions across the branches was 50. Data for 2022 is not
yet available.

Carter said, at least in this case, Hansen is in confinement. “Bottom line, we took a predator off the streets and out of our formation … Cases like this highlight what right looks like as we continue to make positive strides in eliminating sexual harassment and sexual assault from our Army.”


But Renton sees things differently. “I got a not guilty on my charge as well as the two other girls,” she said. “The only person that got a guilty charge was the [lieutenant] colonel, so that was like, ‘OK, they didn’t believe us.’” “Now it looks like we’re making
things up,” Meczywor said. “In my eyes, he won.” She felt it was her words against his and he was going to win that argument. “I already didn’t have trust in the military system. I knew it was going to be a waste of time. I knew we were all going there … and go through hell being called liars and everything. Then find out they called us for absolutely no reason,” Meczywor said. Faith in the military justice system has been lacking for years, according to multiple studies by federal, defense and academic reports. So is conviction.

Of the more than 6,200 military sexual-assault reports made in fiscal year 2020, only 50 resulted in conviction. Carter said no one can say what went through the panel’s mind during sentencing. “The panel was comprised of seasoned officers who heard all the evidence and deliberated for hours before announcing their findings,” he explained. “We strive to provide a safe and secure medical environment for our patients and staff and sincerely regret the effect this has caused on those involved.” And Carter said if other individuals
come forward, their reports will be rigorously investigated. “This story may not be over yet as the potential still exists for more victims to come forward,” he wrote.

For Renton, though, this story is over. She will not re-enlist. “I don’t want any involvement in the Army. For me, they did nothing for me other than make me re-live the same thing over and over again for four years just to not get any justice,” she said. Renton said at least one woman in a senior ranking position criticized her decision to leave the Army. “She said I was letting him win … and ruining my own career,” she said. Career isn’t what first comes to mind for Renton. She remembers the suicide watch, the mandatory psychotropic
medicines and twice-a week therapy that she said, per regulations, kept her from advancing her career, and then the trial.
“When Hansen gave his statement, they looked really sympathetic. They looked sad and were shaking their heads. But when we testified, they were looking down, avoiding eye contact with
the victims,” she said.


She doesn’t want to serve in a military that didn’t believe her.

Share this post:
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email

U.S. Air Force

Our aggressive defense of Air Force members has always been dedicated “to the warriors who go forth [into the skies] to find and defeat our nation’s enemies.” American Fighter Pilots I have been defending these men and women in blue since watching a “friendly” game of crud one night in Ramstein, Germany. It is always an enormous pleasure to immerse oneself into the technical complexities that Air Force careers demand. Over the years we have defended pilots, security forces and, of course, folks on the flight line.

Whatever your rank, worldwide location, charged offense, or circumstance, your invaluable life, or the life of your loved one, deserves more than just a competent legal defense.

Nuance: U.S. Air Force courts-martial are unique in their application of Rules for Courts-Martial 801(b)(2)(c) and Military Rules of Evidence 614 in having its judges proactively inviting panel (“jury”) members to ask for additional evidence, after trial and defense counsel rest, but before starting deliberations on the verdict.

U.S. Army

As a former U.S. Army JAG, I fondly recall the hard work, deployments and duties. Above them all, General David Petraeus is an American hero, and he, like many former U.S. Army Generals, have left an indelible legacy on what it means to serve. There is plenty to do. The U.S. Army leads the way, every year, in the number of courts-martial. Its legal experts are brilliant, and as such, have been tasked with training the other military branches, at the University of Virginia, on the rules, procedures and regulations applicable to military justice.

Whatever your rank, worldwide location, charged offense, or circumstance, your invaluable life, or the life of your loved one, deserves more than just a competent legal defense.

Nuance: U.S. Army military judges will not provide the “unsworn statement instruction” during presentencing should the accused wish to waive it; which is typically a good tactical decision. The other services will commonly provide it, however, even if the accused says no. Additionally, this service does a fine job of tailoring fines to offset confinement as detailed in Rules for Courts-Martial 1003.

U.S. Coast Guard

The Coast Guard is a fabulous service. These cases can take one to some far-off places around the United States, as Coast Guard bases are relatively small, and can also be rather isolated. Ultimately, despite some issues, its members have an uncanny knack for finding justice, such as in three notable cases our firm defended U.S. v. Daly, U.S. v. Cooley, and U.S. v. Riesbeck.

Whatever your rank, worldwide location, charged offense, or circumstance, your invaluable life, or the life of your loved one, deserves more than just a competent legal defense.

Nuance: This is the only service that allows the command to initiate involuntary separation even after someone is fully acquitted at court-martial. Over the past five years the U.S. Coast Guard has finally began detailing U.S. Coast Guard members to U.S. Coast Guard courts-martial, prior to that, the only non-Coast Guard members in the entire courtroom was the defense lawyer Navy JAG and yours truly. Put simply, it is nice to now see an even mix of uniforms.

U.S. Navy

It may be all that time underway, but I truly believe Sailors have the best sense of humor of the lot. It is always a distinct honor to represent officers, senior and junior enlisted Sailors. Even more, this service is likely the most practical in handling military justice cases. In other words, while the other services may occasionally seek to over emphasize certain aspects of a court-martial, U.S. Navy JAGs are fabulous at cutting to the root of the matter. It is also an added advantage that U.S. Navy Defense Service Office (DSO) JAGs have their own private investigator working in their office, no other branch of service has such a great resource on staff.

Whatever your rank, worldwide location, charged offense, or circumstance, your invaluable life, or the life of your loved one, deserves more than just a competent legal defense.

Nuance: Naval Prosecutors are particularly adept at negotiating pretrial agreements. They rely heavily on the concept of “probation” as Rules for Court-martial 1109 describes. On the other hand, Captain Masts can be a difficult hurdle when a Sailor is attached to a vessel, as trial by court-martial cannot be demanded.

U.S. Marine Corps

I served several months as a U.S. Marine Corps JAG, most memorably at Camp Pendleton. These are men and women that are not only mentally fit, they are equally physically and spiritually superb. It is always a distinct honor to be in these courts. Additionally, as an aside, I consider the U.S. Marines and U.S. Army to be related, like distant cousins, because their courts-martial panels (“juries”) have the same tendency to render relatively lenient sentences. Put simply, these two services, more than the others, seem to share a common bond of what it truly means to be in harm’s way, and accused who have been to combat undoubtedly benefit from this notion.

Whatever your rank, worldwide location, charged offense, or circumstance, your invaluable life, or the life of your loved one, deserves more than just a competent legal defense.

Nuance: Marines stationed overseas seemingly remain, among all the services, to be the most vulnerable to overseas law enforcement sting-operations.

Officer Board of Inquiry

* We have many positive reviews and counting. Here are some samples of what service members or their families are saying about us in the field.

  • ★★★★★
    5
    Army BOI

    Highly recommend Mr. Carpenter for Army BOI. He was superb during trial and very precise against the prosecutor. Result: I was RETAINED to stay in the Army. He did the impossible and made it possible for my family and I. Jason and Stephen did a amazing teamwork. I will never forget them and will always be thankful for what they did. Stephen is a Great person

  • ★★★★★
    5
    Board Found No Misconduct.

    I highly recommend using Attorney Stephen Carpenter for your legal needs. I contacted Attorney Carpenter after receiving notification of a General Officer Memorandum of Reprimand (GOMAR). Attorney Carpenter agreed to take my case despite his full caseload. He immediately submitted his rebuttal that was used as facts for my Administrative Board Review. Attorney Carpenter rebuttal saved my 31 years of service in the United States Army.

  • ★★★★★
    5
    Incredibly professional and skilled lawyer

    Stephen crafted a masterful and persuasive defense that ultimately led the BOI to decide for retention. His attention to detail and ability to speak directly to a military board was invaluable. I would absolutely recommend his services to anyone who would require legal assistance in crafting and presenting their defense.

  • ★★★★★
    5
    Review for a BOI

    Stephen was exceptional, and a big reason that I still have a career right now. On the phone, he made himself available to answer burning questions that I had. In front of a board of inquiry, he was sharp, quick-witted, and practiced in a way that befits a man with his extensive experience.

  • ★★★★★
    5
    Retained by Board of Inquiry

    My sincerest gratitude for Stephen Carpenter’s successful BOI defense when wrongfully accused of SHARP claims alleged in the midst of the politically-charge, MeToo tsunami. It is a frightening process: being accused, receiving a GOMOR, and facing a BOI hearing with the burden clearly on the accused to prove innocence. Immediately upon hiring Stephen, he stood with me through the lengthy, bureaucratic process, providing support, counsel, rebuttals, and ultimately mounting a successful defense resulting in the Board’s recommendation of retention. Stephen saved my career, defended my honor, and restored my future through his diligence, utmost professionalism, and unwavering confidence.

Enlisted Separation Boards

* We have many positive reviews and counting. Here are some samples of what service members or their families are saying about us in the field.

  • ★★★★★
    5
    A Great Military Lawyer that cares about you and your family!

    I was caught in a whirlwind of false accusations and under investigation by NCIS. After eight months of not seeing my children due to a Military Protective Order, then another few months of not being able to communicate with or see my wife, it was obvious I needed more assistance than my appointed JAG lawyer could provide. I contacted Mr. Carpenter after doing much research to find legal counsel that dealt specifically with the military. I was very impressed at my first meeting with him and retained his services for my defense. He immediately fought so I could visit with my family and, ultimately, had the MPO rescinded. NCIS found no evidence to support the accusations and, after 1-1/2 years of ruthless investigation, my case was not sent to Court Martial. However, my Commanding Officer decided to send me to Administrative Separation Board (ASB), potentially ending my career in the Navy. Once again, Mr. Carpenter was fast to act. Due to his broad knowledge of the military and his ability to bring the best out of my appointed JAG lawyer, Mr. Carpenter put on a stellar defense. He gathered statements from family, friends, and co-workers through countless hours of interviews. Although a typical ASB takes one day, mine was two days, due to the abundant defense evidence to be presented and Mr. Carpenter’s veritable arguments. The ASB members returned a verdict of No Basis and Retention, thus allowing me to stay in the Navy and fulfill my goal to retire. Mr. Carpenter, literally, saved my family and my entire career. He still contacts me months later to simply see how things are going and discuss my career path. I strongly recommend Mr. Carpenter and his team for any military legal situations.

  • ★★★★★
    5
    Military Involuntary Separation Board

    Stephen Carpenter and his staff are an amazing team. I hired his services in November 2018 to represent me as my civilian legal counsel during a Military Involuntary Separation Board conducted in March 2019. Stephen fought hard for me. He went above and beyond and did everything he could to ensure a great outcome. Stephen and his staff were very professional and knowledgeable about all military legal matters. My opinions were valued and my doubts were always reassured. My needs were put first and I was treated as a friend rather than just a client. One of his staffers, Jason Greene kept in contact with me and provided me support every step of the way. He even took the time to sent me a congratulatory text after the final board determination. This level of care and support showcase the type of climate Stephen instill in his practice. I recommend his services to everyone with military legal matters. Thank you Stephen for all your hard work!

  • ★★★★★
    5
    Administration Separation Board.

    Mr. Carpenter superb expertise in military law and his firm determination in the pursuit of equal justice was awesome. I retained Mr. Carpenter to represent my son's sexual assault and DUI cases with the Army. The local police investigated the sexual assault case and turn it over to the prosecutor. The prosecutor decided not to prosecute the case due to a lack of evidence that a crime was committed. They turn the case over to the Army. Once the Army review the case they decided to prosecute. My son was facing dismal from the service and imprisonment At his trial, Mr. Carpenter was able to prove that the Army had no witness or evidence to convict my son and the case was dismissed. Mr. Carpenter tremendous research and tireless effort in the DUI case resulted in a rescindable of my son dismissal from the service with a General discharge to him being reinstated to active duty in the Army. Mr. Carpenter kept me informed and up to date on all issues pertaining to my son case. I would recommend Mr. Carpenter to any military member as he will pursue all avenues for the very best result.

  • ★★★★★
    5
    Administration Separation Board, Positive Urinalysis, Petty Officer First Class

    In March of 2016 I was notified of my medical retirement. Within days of that I was informed that I had shown positive on a command urinalysis for Oxycodone. The investigator informed me that I had an expired prescription. I was then informed of the next steps, which were XOI, Captains Mast, and ASB. I immediately did my reach on the best military attorneys. Every website and phone call I made indicated that Stephen Carpenter is the best there is. Stephen is a professional in every sense of the word. He knows his way around the courtroom and know's how to exemplify the facts. He was able to find facts the command didn't think to look into and also emphasize my medical conditons. Through his hard work and diligence, my board was a no cause found for separation, unanimously. My family and I cant thank him enough for what he has done. My name has been vindicated and I can walk around with the pride I worked so hard to achieve. Also his intern Jason Greene is phenomenal. That young man is going to make for an amazing attorney one day. Thank you Stephen. -Rob

Credentialing Boards

* We have many positive reviews and counting. Here are some samples of what service members or their families are saying about us in the field.

  • ★★★★★
    5
    A Military Diagnosis, 'Personality Disorder,' Is Challenged. NY Times

    Steve was referred by colleagues as “one of the best, if not the best trial attorney in the country, aggressive and a master strategist.” My case speaks to this. It was lengthy and complicated. I received a GOMOR for sexual harassment in Afghanistan and was ordered to undergo a Mental Health Evaluation. The psychiatrist had a condescending attitude. He feigned concern when I disclosed I had been assaulted and waved aside my distress. His diagnosis was Adjustment Disorder“ and recommended my immediate return JBLM adding “This is in my best interest” I requested a copy his note, but was denied. He said “behavioral health notes are released at the discretion of the provider. The contents may be traumatizing. “ I was in trouble. I had an “Adjustment Disorder” diagnosis placing me at risk for involuntary separation. The psychiatrist inferred negative information in my behavioral health record. There was a GOMOR in my permanent file. My commander was openly hostile and wouldn’t return my salute. I was facing certain administrative separation under Other Than Honorable (OTH) Conditions. I’d lose both benefits and my civilian position with DOD. I was despondent, but Steve would change that. I was able to get a copy of the psychiatrist’s note at JBLM. His diagnosis was not “Adjustment Disorder” as I was told, but “Personality Disorder.” Even more stunning, he said “Her command specifically asks for a diagnosis of a “Personality Disorder”, Important evidence confirming the long- held belief that Unlawful Command Influence is practiced by unethical, criminal commanders. Steve is always on-top. Characteristically, he contacted one of the most revered newspapers in the country, the NY Times, to publish the psychiatrist’s note. On Feb 25, 2012, my case appeared on the front page but, Steve wasn’t finished yet. He filed a Whistle Blower complaint against my command that ultimately made its way to the Army IG at the Pentagon who requested my sworn statements. Steve’s excellence appeared to be acknowledged by my command. During the course of my case, I received three separate Board notifications. Steve responded to each and each time, my command retreated. I never had a Board hearing nor was I separated for a personality disorder or misconduct. My characterization of service was honorable. That’s how good Steve is. Steve’s expertise is matched by his compassion. My case went on for 6 years. Resignation with OTH Conditions was out of the question so I road it out. During that time, my command targeted me with reprisals that leveled the life I had built. If not for Steve’s steady support, I would have taken my life. In the end, the VA rated me as 100% disabled from PTSD and spinal injuries. I was medically retired from my position with DOD for PTSD and was granted Social Security Disability for PTSD. The presiding Secretary of the Army, however, would not acknowledge my PTSD. To my knowledge, I’m the only military member on record who was denied medical retirement under these circumstances.

Reprimands & Promotion Boards

* We have many positive reviews and counting. Here are some samples of what service members or their families are saying about us in the field.

  • ★★★★★
    5
    1LT

    Mr. Carpenter is a stellar lawyer who is persistent in the matter at hand. Because of his dedication and determination navigating the chain of command, I was fully exonerated and my promotion was reinstated. He saved my career.

  • ★★★★★
    5
    Professional service with personal attention.

    Stephen and his team provided winning results in my case involving a GOMOR. He ensured that my voice was heard by crafting thorough, convincing arguments in my favor. From my initial, inquiring phone call through the successful resolution of my case, Stephen was responsive to my concerns and willing to listen to my side of the case. Stephen has a commanding knowledge of military justice and , more importantly, understands how to present information to senior leaders.

  • ★★★★★
    5
    Favorable outcome for Command Investigation

    I was 1 of 2 subjects of a GO-directed investigation, and was facing a potential permanent GOMOR. I spoke with 3 other civilian attorneys, and I extremely happy to say that I chose Stephen. He remained actively engaged with my investigation, even while working several other cases at the time. Diligent and aggressive, Stephen guided me through the process, engaged the command's legal advisors, and helped craft my response. In the end, I avoided a GOMOR, resumed my career, and have since made the promotion list. I highly recommend calling Stephen, as soon as you are read your rights.

  • ★★★★★
    5
    Highly recommend

    Stephen prepared my file for a PRB. I was selected to MAJ then notified the next day I would face a PRB for something that occurred in my previous assignment. I was devistated. I reached out to Mr. Carpenter who was professional from the start. He felt confident the outcome would be favorable and it was. Because of him I now have the opportunity to continue to serve and I am planning my promotion party!!

  • ★★★★★
    5
    GOMAR success

    In May 19, 2018, I received a General Officer Letter of Reprimand (GOMOR) for something a legal adviser thought was my fault. The first few days was stressful because I have 10 days to explain to the General why I wasn’t guilty. By my experience, almost every Soldier who gets a GOMOR is separated from the Army. But after I hired Mr. Carpenter it was a big relief. Mr. Carpenter got in contact with those legal advisers, which are things I couldn’t do because I must follow my chain of command. On July 13, 2018, I received the good news that my GOMOR was filled “locally.” I know of Soldiers who got involved in an incident and went to legal on post a month later; and are still awaiting a decision. I am really happy with Mr. Carpenter’s representation of me and would highly recommend him to every Soldier that needs help with a GOMOR rebuttal. He saved my career.

Court-Martial Defense

* We have many positive reviews and counting. Here are some samples of what service members or their families are saying about us in the field.

  • ★★★★★
    5
    The Best Defense Attorney

    The best attorney that you can hire. Mr. Carpenter was not the first attorney I contacted, I had consulted with two previously, but I knew from the start that he was the one that would best represent me. Both Mr. Carpenter and Jason Green worked on my case. I first hired him when I was facing a field grade Article 15. We had multiple conference calls to weigh the options of accepting or turning it down. I faced losing my rank over a misunderstanding. Ultimately, I turned down the Article 15 and it was preferred to a Summary Court Martial. When the trial date came, Mr. Carpenter and Jason Greene did a phenomenal job defending me. We had the advantage of not having a Trial Counsel (prosecutor) present. Closing arguments are a very powerful tool that, when used effectively, can tip the scale into one side’s favor. For the sake of time, trial had taken all day, Mr. Carpenter’s closing argument was brief. However, it had conveyed a very powerful message to not just the SCMO, but to everyone in the courtroom, myself included. A message that was expanded on the next day. The following day, he submitted his written argument. Mr. Carpenter did an outstanding job at highlighting the flaws of the case. Both his closing and written argument gave me confidence that I had made the right choice. In the end, it resulted in an acquittal of both charges. If you find yourself as a defendant in the military justice system, Stephen Carpenter is the best civilian defense attorney you can hire. His reputation speaks for itself, both in the courtroom and out.

  • ★★★★★
    5
    Get him on your case STAT; he is a winner and will fight for you every step of the way.

    Mr. Carpenter focuses his legal "laser beam" on the prosecutor case and zooms in on its weaknesses and flaws. He then work with you to let the Board/Panel see how weak and unsupported it is. His extensive experience enables him to read the Panel/Jury members like a book, and he diligently draws the path to your acquittal for them to take. Steve wrote the book on military law technicalities. If OSI/CID/DNI made mistakes in investigating your case he will hold them accountable, and have the flawed evidence thrown out. Be prepared to work hard! He WILL visit to scene or work ceaselessly for 14-16 hours in a day, if this is what it takes to prevail in court. Mr. Carpenter is a brilliant and tough negotiator. What he may secure for you in a settlement can save your career and/or deliver you to your goal line. He is easy to reach for emergent developments, and super easy to get along with; two of the most important aspects to evaluate before hiring ANY attorney. If you are a service member who found himself in military legal misfortunes--HIRE STEVE!

  • ★★★★★
    5
    Sexual Assault Case

    Mr. Carpenter was the best attorney I could’ve hired for this case. He handled it with absolute care and precision and ensured that my worries/concerns were dealt with. He is very knowledgeable and was adamant on getting all the information necessary and presenting the proof to get the case closed in a very timely manner. Highly recommend this Attorney/Law Firm if God forbid you ever find yourself in a situation such as this!

  • ★★★★★
    5
    US Navy Officer Case Dismissed

    I hired Stephen to work on multiple cases and situations for me, and ultimately he worked on a misdemeanor that carried a large fine and jail time. He was on top of everything and worked to settle the case out of court. Stephen stayed after the "victim" and made sure that not only was she made whole and respected, but that I was treated fairly as well. After a little over a year Stephen and I appeared before a judge and the case was formally dismissed with no repercussions from the military or civil justice system.

  • ★★★★★
    5
    the only one who responded

    I sent many messages to attorneys in the area. The only one who replied was Stephen Carpenter. I highly appreciate this. Thank you