The gravity of rape accusations should never be taken lightly. This is especially true in predominantly male-dominated sectors, where sexual assault often goes unchecked. Thus, the Virginia court chose to prioritize Susan Shannon’s case when she charged a former West Point classmate with raping her during her time as a cadet back in 1986. Sadly, while the accused has since ascended to considerable heights within the Army as a colonel, Susan remains emotionally crippled by this horrendous experience that robbed her innocence and altered her life forevermore.
In a shocking twist, Shannon is not the one being supported by Virginia court. Instead, she was found guilty of defamation for her story and ordered to pay an outrageous amount of $8.4 million as ransom to Col. David “Wil” Riggins who denied raping her in the first place; this decision comes after a Fairfax County jury ruled in favor of him instead. It remains unknown what implications this order will have on other victims that come forward with similar stories against their alleged attackers.
When Riggins discovered that Shannon’s claims had put a stop to his promotion to one-star general, he chose vengeance. He retaliated by launching a lawsuit against her – an action that could potentially devastate her financially and emotionally for the rest of her life. By using the power at his disposal, he was able to assert control over his accuser in court and make it difficult for her to succeed with any legal battles she attempts from here on out.
The lawsuit read: “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 titled “Short Little Rebel” discloses the nightmarish encounter of Shannon and Riggins at Eisenhower Hall. After consuming an excessive amount of beer, she blacked out from its effects; however, this did not stop the Colonel from seizing her vulnerability as he allegedly raped her with no 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, however, challenges the veracity of Shannon’s account. He claims that beer was strictly prohibited on campus at that time and adds to his argument by noting he did not possess a vehicle available to take her home that evening.
“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 stated.” Rather, she only asserts that she woke up the next morning and concluded that she had sexual intercourse with someone the night before.”
Instead of denying it, Riggins conceded that he was in a relationship with Shannon before she decided to abandon West Point and go after her medical degree.
The court ordered Shannon to pay the Colonel $3.4 million in compensation, as well as a hefty amount of additional damages totaling up to $5 million due to her defamatory remarks. Fortunately for her, an appeal was put forth by her attorneys which will most likely reduce the payment demands down to no more than just $2.3 million–a vast difference from what she would otherwise have had required of her.