don't tell hell

Without False Rape Accusations, Victor Fehrenbach Never Would’ve Become a DADT Hero


In order to defend himself against rape accusations made by Cameron Shaner, decorated Iraqi vet Air Force Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach was forced to tell investigators his side of the story. Namely, that he met the man accusing him of rape of a gay chat site, and they had consensual sex. Fehrenbach’s story helped clear him of the rape wrap rap, but his admission that he had consensual sex made its way to Air Force brass. Fehrenbach was willing to go quietly with an honorable discharge, until Shaner pushed for a dishonorable one after growing irate there would be no criminal charges. And that, folks, is the short version of how Fehrenbach came under the assault of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell — to become one of its leading opponents.

It’s also the reason why Defense Secretary Robert Gates seems keen on relaxing DADT investigations when soldiers are forced out of the closet like Fehrenbach — not that it’s any consolation to other, closeted gay soldiers. (And, what, if you’re forcibly outed you’re then free to live as an openly gay person among the ranks without the threat of dismissal?)

There’s a much lengthier, well-reported version worthy of your attention at the Idaho Stateman, which includes details like these:

Shaner, the man who put Fehrenbach on the brink, was a Boise State University criminal justice student when he accused Fehrenbach of assaulting him. Shaner served 3Ý years in the Army in the 1990s, including time in Bosnia, and was honorably discharged as a private first class.

According to the Veterans Administration, Shaner has a 100 percent service-connected disability. Shaner told the Idaho Statesman he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and skeletal injuries. He lives in Arizona.

In text messages the night they met, Shaner expressed sexual interest in Fehrenbach, admiring photos of Fehrenbach’s naked body and calling him “stud.” Arriving at Fehrenbach’s home, Shaner disrobed and joined him in the hot tub. Observed Boise police detective Vucinich in his report: “It should be noted that (Shaner) could not give me an answer as to why he, himself, had gotten naked.”

Boise police did not find evidence of rape, said spokeswoman Lynn Hightower. Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Roger Bourne said the county decided against prosecution.

The Air Force says its investigation cleared Fehrenbach and discredited Shaner.

Five days before his encounter with Fehrenbach, Shaner contacted the Air Force Office of Special Investigations at Mountain Home. He was accompanied by an acquaintance who Shaner said had told him gay men were inviting military men to “HIV parties” in an attempt to infect them with the virus, according to the Air Force.