The Army dismissed abusive sexual contact charges against the former commander of the 1st Cavalry Division’s Fort Cavazos, Texas-based 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, according to court records and a III Corps spokesperson.
Col. Jon Meredith was fired from brigade command in October 2022 amid an investigation that ultimately led to criminal charges. Meredith was charged with two specifications of abusive sexual contact and two specifications of conduct unbecoming an officer for allegedly groping and kissing a subordinate’s wife without consent while her husband was away on a field exercise in July 2022.
But now Meredith will only go to trial for alleged conduct unbecoming an officer, according to Lt. Col. Tania Donovan, a spokesperson for III Corps.
She said the corps commander, Lt. Gen. Sean Bernabe, “withdrew and dismissed” the sexual contact charges on Sept. 11, three days after a Sept. 8 pre-trial hearing. The move “was based on an assessment of multiple factors including a careful consideration of the current evidence, the interests of justice, input from the alleged victim, and preservation of good order and discipline,” she added.
Before withdrawing the charges, Donovan said, the general engaged with the new independent Office of Special Trial Counsel and sought “an assessment by an OSTC civilian expert who is a seasoned prosecutor with decades of experience prosecuting sexual assault in the civilian criminal justice system.” The new office, a product of Congress’ military justice reforms, will soon handle all prosecutions of major crimes across the service, and the military’s other branches have similar structures.
Meredith’s attorney, Sherry Bunn, told Stars & Stripes she believes the remaining charges don’t warrant a general court-martial.
“It appears the government reassessed its case after the motions hearing on Friday afternoon [Sept. 8] where several issues were litigated before the court,” Bunn said. “Unfortunately, lawmakers’ continued insistence that every alleged victim is truthful and every case should be prosecuted to the fullest leads to prosecutors and commanders forcing charges that are unsupported and contradicted by the evidence in the case.”
The colonel’s trial on the remaining charges is tentatively scheduled to begin Sept. 25, but such dates often move. Meredith’s wife, Col. Ann Meredith, was fired from her role as the 89th Military Police Brigade’s commander for reportedly interfering in her husband’s investigation.
Davis Winkie covers the Army for Military Times. He studied history at Vanderbilt and UNC-Chapel Hill, and served five years in the Army Guard. His investigations earned the Society of Professional Journalists' 2023 Sunshine Award and consecutive Military Reporters and Editors honors, among others. Davis was also a 2022 Livingston Awards finalist.