The rape court-martial of a former Army special victims prosecutor has been delayed for a second time this year, amid questions about the soldier’s mental state.
Capt. Scott Hockenberry, who faces three counts of forcible intercourse and three of sexual assault consummated by a battery, will be evaluated for “mental readiness” before his case is put back on the trial docket, Military District of Washington spokeswoman Shaunteh Kelly confirmed to Army Times on Wednesday.
Col. Daniel Brookhart, the presiding judge, “ruled that Captain Hockenberry is presently unable to understand the nature of the proceedings and cooperate fully in his defense,” Kelly said.
Hockenberry had originally been scheduled for trial in February, but a defense request for a continuance pushed proceedings off until early June.
Brookhart ruled in late April that Hockenberry would undergo an evaluation before the trial begins, Kelly said, adding that details were protected by medical privacy rules.
According to the Manual for Courts-Martial, a board of physicians or clinical psychologists will be convened to consider a defendant’s mental fitness for trial.
That includes whether he or she was mentally disabled at the time of the crime, any clinical psychiatric diagnoses, ability to discern right from wrong at the time of the crime or any present mental health issue that would prevent him or her from understanding the trial or cooperating in their defense.
Hockenberry’s charges stem from a 2016 relationship he had with a fellow Army lawyer, when they were both stationed at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
What began as a consensual, domination-submission sexual dynamic, according to the prosecution, turned violent over a period of weeks. Hockenberry is accused of raping the woman at knife point and punching her across the face.
The defense has argued that the encounters were within the agreed upon parameters of their relationship, and that the woman only brought charges when she discovered that Hockenberry was having sexual relationships other women.
Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members. Follow on Twitter @Meghann_MT