Shannon Vs. Riggins Rape Trial T.V. Interview

video

Ok, here is the very first of the t.v. interviews from my rape/defamation case.  The actual interview contained so much more information, but they had to boil it all down to three minutes.  All in all, I am very happy with it & thought it to be fair.   I want to thank WJLA and the 7 On Your Side Team and Joce Sterman for taking the time to tell my story.  I make this promise to every raped woman in the United States:  I will stand to the end of this.  I don’t care if I must sell my home.  They have picked on the wrong woman this time.  I am sick to my heart of the intimidation tactics that are used against women who come forward about their rape.  The facts of this case will come out and they will prove my case.  We have a basic right to FREE SPEECH- it is called the First Amendment.  No one shall take it from us.  No one.
————-(reprint of the article below)
A 7 On Your Side I-Team exclusive: It’s a he said, she said battle for the ages, with multi-million dollar consequences. And it’s all playing out in a Fairfax County courtroom.

A retired Army colonel from Alexandria is suing one of his classmates from West Point in the 1980’s, claiming her recent allegations of a rape from 30 years ago cost him a military promotion. The 7 On Your Side I-Team is shining a light on the case that experts say could impact what you say on social media.

West Point cadets follow a simple code, just three words: duty, honor and country, which two former cadets say let them down for drastically different reasons. One of them, retired Army Colonel Wil Riggins told 7 On Your Side, “I did feel like I’d been abandoned by the Army.”

His classmate, Susan Shannon, said, “There’s what we call a silent code. You don’t turn people in.”

Shannon waited nearly three decades to talk about what she says happened during the years when she wore the West Point uniform and followed its code.

“I was raped in 1986 by another cadet,” she said.

But it was writing about that alleged rape 27 years later that changed the career of Riggins, who had been Shannon’s classmate decades earlier. He called the allegations a blindside.

Riggins, a decorated colonel from Alexandria and combat veteran, was on the rise in 2013. But he says that changed when Army leaders saw Shannon’s rape allegation on her blog, which listed Riggins by name.

“Frankly the day I started saying his name was the day I started blaming him instead of myself,” Shannon said.

“I never got a day in court,” Riggins told 7 On Your Side, “Susan Shannon decided to play judge and jury on her own.”

But now Riggins will get his day when the accused and accuser meet in a Fairfax County courtroom. Earlier this year Riggins filed a multi-million dollar defamation lawsuit against his former classmate, saying her claims of rape on what some consider a radical blog, cost him a promotion to general in the United States Army.

Responding to the suit, Shannon’s attorney, Ben Trichilo, told ABC7, “We have a pretty basic defense here and it’s the truth.”

But Riggins is mounting his own case, denying the rape occurred, saying, “I did not rape Susan Shannon. Reading into her blog, every aspect of that story is verifiably false.”

That blog is where Shannon talked about her own alleged rape in 1986 after reading about sex assaults in the military. It’s also a place where Shannon has written about controversial topics including whether the 2012 school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut was a planned conspiracy.

But it was her 2013 post that’s now getting attention. The alleged rape Shannon wrote about is something she did not report before unexpectedly dropping out of West Point. She even denied it when asked during an exit interview.

“There was no way I was going to report that. The blame would fall squarely on me,” Shannon said.

Shannon, now a mother living on the West Coast as she fights an East Coast court battle, says she originally told friends and then kept silent, for decades. Her blog entry was published following the announcement that Colonel Riggins was nominated for general. Shannon maintains she was not aware of the nomination until contacted by Army officials following her post.

“It was euphoric,” Riggins said of the nomination, “Unlike any experience I’ve ever had.”

But euphoria quickly turned to fear when Riggins was summoned to Fort Myer in Arlington for questioning by the Army’s Criminal Investigations Division. He was fingerprinted and had DNA samples. He said, “I went through the process like I had already been convicted.”

The 7 On Your Side I-Team obtained copies of the investigative file from the case as well as hundreds of pages of other court documents and Army files. The official Army report shows investigators couldn’t prove or disprove Shannon’s allegation. But internal Army emails show Riggins’ promotion was pushed to what’s called a Promotion Review Board because of the investigation.

Army memos obtained by ABC 7 show the review board ultimately decided Riggins was “fully qualified for promotion”. But documents show Secretary of the Army John McHugh chose to pull Riggins’ name from the promotion list. Army representatives wouldn’t say why that decision was made.

Riggins tells ABC 7, “When the Secretary of the Army had to put his name on the line, he wasn’t willing to expend his political capital to defend the process.”

So now Riggins is defending his honor in court. As Susan Shannon honors what she calls her duty to women that have kept silent.

“I didn’t ask for this day. I’m being forced into a courtroom,” Shannon said, “It’s costing me and my family pretty much all that we have saved. I knew that risk when I wrote it and I don’t regret it a day.”

Both parties disagree on many things in this case, ranging from whether the sex was consensual, what year the act happened, even whether beer was served the night Shannon claims the alleged rape happened.

But experts tell us one thing is sure: a lawsuit like this could have a big impact on what potential crime victims say on the web moving forward. Coming up Friday on ABC 7, why some believe this local case could have a chilling effect across the country.

8 comments

  1. A girl once gave a speech at a college Speech class we were attending. She told the story of how she had taken a Cruise on Carnival Cruise Lines. One of the staff had slipped a drug of some sort into her drink and she was subsequently raped by more than one person. She went into sobs relating this. No way she made it up.

    • Of course she wouldn’t. And neither did I. One always has to ask about motives. The absolute torture that a woman goes through after making a claim is NOT WORTH IT. It is the most laughable thing in the world that a woman comes forward because she wants attention. HA! The only attention she gets is hateful attention. I can assure you of that. Show me the last woman who came forward with a rape allegation who was given the keys to the city? We are always doubted, ridiculed, called gold diggers and every other name in the book. I’d love to find a woman who brought forward a rape accusation and was lauded for it. It is embarrassing to come forward and you absolutely pay for it. It is an act of bravery to do so. Period.

  2. Hello, Susan. I just found your blog last night. I must say I am moved by the strength and intelligence of the opinions you express, combined by your unwavering love of Christ. Can you please post an update on what is going on in your litigation? When is it set for trial? What’s going on, what are the upcoming deadlines? FYI, I tried to search the case from the information you left online, but the search came back empty. I am so sorry for what you went through so many years ago, and I am sorry for what you are going through now. Thank God you have a family to help support and strengthen you, so that you are not facing this journey alone. My wife, too, went through a horribly abusive situation in her past, so I have a lot empathy for your past, coupled with admiration for the strength you have found in the present. Aloha!

    • Hi Steven, well, I can’t say much about my case. On the advice of my attorney, I must remain rather mum. Suffice it to say that my husband and I are closer than ever- as is my family. We are still taking any funds that anyone cares to give via our Gofundme account as the case still produces and incredible strain on our personal finances. God is with us in this case and we feel very strongly that we will prevail. Unfortunately, it takes a lot of time and effort to move a case like this along the process- even if you are completely innocent. But we are strong and confident and really, have made the case just another part of our lives. It no longer consumes a large part of our consciences. It has been going on since 2013 and who knows when it will end? So, we are just moving on with our lives and are letting God do what he does best- take care of us!

  3. Poor Riggins, the epitome of white male privilege and bloated ego. Angry he didn’t get that one-star he thought was rightfully his. “I did feel like I’d been abandoned by the Army.” Abandoned? He gets retirement as a full-Colonel from his 30 yrs of service. He also had his entire 30 yrs of service and his 4 years of WP fully funded by the U.S. Government; and by funded — I also mean a salary. That’s right, a government education that allowed rampant sexism and, at times, a hostile environment to women ALSO paid him a monthly stipend as he attended. I do hope the Civilian courts might come to the realization that USMA graduates paid rapists. Women want to “cooperate and graduate”, and out-of-fear will keep quiet. In addition, Riggins has first priority due to his service to almost any senior government position with even more pay and additional retirement from the U.S. Government. And, depending on the government contractors he “got to know” on active duty, he has contacts that could potentially bring him a six figure starting salary as leadership in the civilian sector. But, instead of moving on and accepting that the Secretary of the Army would not “support” his one-star, he’s drags a woman into court for millions of dollars to “clear his name”. Susan, how did your blog post carry that much power to affect his career?! The answer is: it didn’t and it can’t. Who even knew his name prior to this disgusting “defamation” suit? I too graduated from the same federally-funded government institution that is West Point, mid-80’s and I can completely understand your position, Susan. I am really sorry that you had to carry this burden and then are now dragged through court. Unless Secretary of the Army John McHugh can testify as to why he couldn’t support Riggin’s name on the promotion list, he can’t blame you. Riggin’s real “beef” is with the Army. He should consider himself lucky that he had a very successful career before his own actions continue to damage his reputation. Speaking from too much experience, WPer’s are blinded by their own perceived self-importance. The larger impact of this case is devastating to future survivors of sexual assault from coming forward. And it will set a precedence that supports our “Rape Culture” that has in-deed become worse over the past 30 years. Is there relativity in the laws that apply here? Aren’t claimed damages considered relative? For example, there was NO guarantee that Riggins would make one-star. None. He’s claiming potential loss to his Army career — not actual loss. No civilian, no matter what they say or write can affect anything or anybody unless the U.S. Army allows it — that power was directly in the hands of Secretary of the Army, no-one else. Please push for that this case be dismissed on lack of direct, causal evidence and erroneously determined “damages”. Riggins might have personal grievances with the Army but this case is costly, unrealistic and once it is dismissed, I hope all parties can move forward with grace. Unless, Susan you can countersue!

    • Oh, Langen, FINALLY, a person other than myself who can truly see through the fog. Everything you said is exactly the truth. You hit the nail on the head in every way. I fear for women, children and even the men who will be raped from this day forward. I heard that Bill Cosby filed enormous defamation suits against several of his accusers just last Dec. I truly believe he did so based on my case. I believe he is hoping that my case favors Riggins. If I lose this case, all raped women, children and men will lose from this day forward. No one will dare speak the name of their rapist again. The very thought enrages me. Thank you for your comment.

  4. It happened to my daughter, too, back in the eighties. And there were no real consequences. I wanted to fly to Texas and slug the guy, but these things get swept under the rug, and have for years. I am told this happens to more women than not in the military, which is shameful.

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