Dustin, a member of the National Guard, was the victim of a false rape accusation. While false accusations of sexual assault are rare, when they do happen, they can ruin lives. It's important to note these cases as well - both to give the victim a voice and as a reminder that false accusations can make the public less likely to believe those who have been assaulted, resulting in survivors being afraid to come forward and make their assaulter face justice. These stories are damaging not just to the falsely accused victim, but also to other survivors of sexual assault.
Read Dustin's story in his own words below.
I cried, and I wanted to die because I had seen this play out before....
I had met this woman, by the name of Katherine Elizabeth Bennett, in January of 2013 at IBM. I talked with her and was hoping to get to know her. I had left the company not long after meeting her but still stayed in touch and even invited her over for a cooked meal and drinks. She never did come over, but she invited me to her place or to the parks around Fort Collins. I thought I was getting to know her and I was getting to like her, though I struggled with a few things that I pushed aside as to her inability to answer certain questions or how often she shuts down. I tossed it aside and communicated with her nonetheless. There was a point where she left for the summer to visit with family but she still stayed in contact with me.
Katherine felt close enough to Dustin that she confided in him her thoughts of suicide.
She said she planned on taking her own life. I asked her if she was okay after she mentioned in a text, "I am just going to take a really long nap". After the conversation with pills and everything that ensued before I was afraid she may have OD'd (overdosed), as she did it once before. So I contacted the authorities in Illinois about Bennett along with the Fort Collins Police Department, and I even contacted my unit, in the National Guard, to figure out what could be done to save a life. She was later found at the place where she was staying and she was alright. She was just taking a nap that was not explained well enough via text. Months later she comes back and I asked if she would like to go out on a date. So in November 2013 she consented to going out on a date. Though she had plans to go shopping and I had plans to see the Hunger Games with my little brother. She had contacted me via text multiple times during the film and I didn't contact her back till after I had arrived home. She was asking where and when we were going to meet. We came to the conclusion that we could meet at the Safeway parking lot and we did so. I then drove us to a Chinese restaurant. We had eaten our food and headed out. I proceeded to drive around talking about things and she is quiet. I asked her if everything is okay and she replied she just wanted to go home. So I drove her back to her car and told her that I was sorry that the night couldn't have been better. She told me that it was okay and left my car to go to hers. I watched her drive away and I sat there wondering if the night was bad.
Moments after she left she sent a text of what she wanted to do; all she wanted to do was lay down, watch movies, and drink. I replied to her text that we could do all of those. Katherine parked next to me and had entered my car once again and I drove us to the liquor store to grab drinks. I asked what she wanted and she had told me that she would like to have wine. So I got two bottles of white wine and then left to go to my parents home where I had been staying since late summer. I invited her to my parents home and introduced her to my folks and we both went down in the basement to my room where we would watch and drink movies and even lay down on my bed. I went back up stairs to grab wine glasses and saw they were dirty, I cleaned them and went back down stairs to open, pour, and drink the wine. We then started watching Just Married. I had let her lay down on my bed as I sat on my computer chair. I wasn't certain if she wanted me close to her or not, after all she was not very vocal about what she wanted. She asked me to lay next to her as we began to talk. Everything was going well and we both were enjoying our wine that I purchased. Just Married ended and she wanted to watch another film so I plugged in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. At this point we weren't watching the film and had become intimate. She had pulled me in and I pulled away and asked her if this was okay and had wanted to be sure that she was okay with it and she said yes.
The next morning we woke up and she said that she needed to get home. I drove her to her car that was left at the Safeway parking lot, and I watched her get in her car. Later that night I was getting texted by her saying she was in the hospital. I asked her if everything was okay. She was telling me that she was kicked in the stomach and was told she may have a ruptured spleen. I was confused and lost as to who or why and she said someone in her past is doing this to her. I continued texting her through most of the night. She then told me to delete the texts as the individual has a way of finding me through my phone, and like an idiot I deleted all of the texts between her and I. After I did that I was afraid that the guy was going to find me, whoever he was, even after deleting the texts because a phone can be traced no matter what. I thought as to why I did that but I did it. I then left work at 2300 (11pm) to go home. As I was approaching my home in Windsor I had spotted a police cruiser sitting in idle with the engine on as I could see the exhaust coming from the pipe in late November. I passed by and moments later he then turned his headlamps on and thought nothing of it, thinking he was going to a different post or meet with someone for a lunch break. I then turned my turn signal on to go left and saw another cruiser. I was wondering what may have been going on. I then made my turn and as I did the red and blue lamps came on and a single siren went off. I thought something had happened as I made the turn, only to realize there were six police cruisers blockading me. I rolled down my window to ask what was going on and as I am looking I see that there are twelve officers with pistols in hand and wearing body armor. I was told to reach outside of my car door and open it slowly. More instructions ensued and I followed. As I was doing so I was asking if this was about Katherine and if she is okay, like the idiot that I am. I was then told to get on my knees with my hands on my head. I followed the instructions and as soon as the cold hard bracelets touched my skin and were locked in place, the officer pulled me from the ground and I asked what am I being arrested for and his response was sexual assault. I froze in terror and wanted to end my poor pathetic excuse of my life at that very moment. It clicked in my head that Katherine went to the hospital to lie and it was her, a woman's word, against my word. I was screwed.
I was then taken into the station - none of my Miranda Rights were read to me at the scene or at all, and I was escorted to the station where I would be questioned. I cried and I wanted to die because I have seen this play out before where a woman says she was raped and that man is then sent to jail without any remorse. I stayed in jail for a night wondering how my life was going to go in jail, I stayed quiet, I followed the rules, I hated the food, but I waited. I was released 18 hours later as there was lack of evidence to hold me. I had informed my command after the Thanksgiving holiday, but that was too late as the media had taken like wildfire and spread the word that I was a criminal and had raped Katherine Elizabeth Bennett; as according to her story, that was blasted through the news, I had kidnapped her at the Safeway parking lot, stopped to buy drugs from a drug dealer, child locked my doors to stop any escape so I could go into the Safeway store to buy a fruity drink and drug her with Ketamine, as she could taste and smell something odd, hold her at knife point at my parents home, tie duck tape around the wine bottle and force her to drink it, and wake up the next day as I kicked her in the stomach and left her to walk back to her car lost and confused with a possible broken leg and ruptured spleen. After my charges were dropped in December 2013 I tried to get my job back, they kept me fired. I tried to go to a company that was going to hire me and said due to my recent criminal history, even though I was not convicted, I could not be apart of the company. I looked for other places too and was looking to live in a place of my own and when I was looking, I was told I could not because of my recent criminal history; again I was never convicted of the crimes but I could not get housing. I even had the option to deploy with my unit at the time but was unable to because of what was going on. I was even removed from the unit I had been with for four years to a different unit because of all that was going on and the controversy that started in the unit when the accusation arose and since it was in the media you couldn't hide the "facts".