By John Woodrow Cox
The Washington Post
That’s what Marine Maj. Mark Thompson declared the first time we met.
He’d been fighting to prove it ever since two young women accused the former history instructor at the U.S. Naval Academy of having sex with them while they were students. One of the women said the 2011 liaison — amid a drunken night of strip poker at his Annapolis home — was consensual and part of an ongoing relationship. The other called it rape.
None of it was true, Thompson said as we sat at a quiet table inside the Hay-Adams hotel bar called Off the Record — ironic, considering how eagerly he wanted The Washington Post to write about the way the military had handled his case.
“They railroaded me,” he would say later.
At his court-martial, a nine-member jury had acquitted Thompson of the sexual assault charge but still found him guilty of five lesser offenses, including conduct unbecoming an officer, indecent conduct and fraternization.
The verdict devastated him, marring a career and reputation he’d built for more than two decades. On June 3, 2013, the combat veteran was sentenced to two months’ confinement in a military prison and fined $60,000, though his jurors stopped short of kicking him out of the service.
But Thompson’s story didn’t end there — and what happened to him next made it unlike any I’d heard before.
Picture: James Sims [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons