Sexual assault and rape allegations should never be taken lightly. These types of crimes are especially prevalent in male-dominated industries where there is a power imbalance. Susan Shannon, a former West Point cadet, accused one of her former classmates of raping her when she was only eighteen years old. The Virginia court listened to Shannon’s story because it took place at the military academy–back in 1986. The accused has since risen to prominence in the Army as a colonel, while Shannon wallows in grief from the sexual crime that left her psychologically damaged.
Shannon’s story was not true, according to a Virginia court. Instead of siding with the alleged victim of rape, the court found Shannon guilty of defamation and demanded that she pay her accuser a large sum of money. In Fairfax County, a jury ruled in favor of Col. David “Wil” Riggins and ordered Shannon to pay him $8.4 million for defamation; Shannon was the alleged victim of rape.
Riggins learned that rape allegations from his accuser would prevent him from being promoted, so in retaliation he sued her. He was on track to become a one-star general but his career came to a screeching halt when Shannon accused him of sexual misconduct. Now he has used the power at his disposal to crush her in court, which may have forever ruined her financial life.
The lawsuit states: “The allegations of rape were investigated by U.S. Army [Criminal Investigation Command], and it was determined that there was no testimonial or physical evidence to corroborate Defendant Susan Shannon’s statements concerning, Colonel David W. Riggins.”
A blog post called “Short Little Rebel” talks about how Riggins reportedly raped Shannon after she drank a lot of beer at Eisenhower Hall and passed out. Shannon alleges that Riggins found her in a vulnerable state and raped of her without remorse.
“I felt the need to tell the story about a rape of a soldier I personally know: that soldier is me,” the article read. “The man who raped me, Will riggings [sic], class of 1987, is now a Colonel in the Army. The rape is the reason I left West Point. So, while his military career is soaring, I left mine far behind.”
Riggins denies Shannon’s story could be true, claiming beer was forbidden on campus at the time, and he didn’t have a vehicle to drive her home that night.
“When pressed on the details as to what happened, Susan Shannon does not state that she actually recalls the alleged rape by David W. Riggins,” the lawsuit read.” Rather, she only asserts that she woke up the next morning and concluded that she had sexual intercourse with someone the night before.”
Riggins confessed that he and Shannon were dating before she left to study medicine at West Point.
Shannon’s attorneys plan to appeal the court’s decision that she must pay $3.4 million in compensation to the colonel as well as $5 million in damages due to her libelous claims. However, appealing the decision would likely lower the amount Shannon has to pay no more than $2.3 million total.