Officer gets dismissal, confinement for indecent exposure

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Mike Meares
  • 82nd Training Wing Public Affairs
An instructor pilot training student was found guilty of violating Article 120c of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, indecent exposure, and was sentenced to 30 days confinement and a dismissal during a general court martial May 6, 2014, at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, for exposing himself on two separate occasions.

Second Lt. Benjamin Sears, 459th Flying Training Squadron, was tried by a panel of seven Sheppard officers during two days of testimony from six current and former students at Midwestern State University. In April and October of 2013, Sears intentionally exposed his genitalia in the Clark Student Center.

On April 18, video footage stills captured by the MSU campus police showed Sears inside the student center where he walked into a nearly empty student center and sat at a table closest to his first three victims. Wearing Air Force issued physical training shorts with the inner liner cut out, he sat facing three nursing students who were studying for a final examination with his legs spread "wider than normal," according to the women.

The trio saw Sears at the campus on two other occasions, the third of which was in November, when they followed him with campus police on the phone. Near the entrance to the library, the MSU chief of police stopped him and questioned him about the incident.

A few days after making a positive identification of Sears, another set of three young ladies came forward describing how they had a similar situation with Sears in October. Sears came into the nearly empty student center, sat down at a table near them wearing Air Force physical training shorts with the inner liner cut out and exposed himself to them. He then approached the victims and asked them inappropriate and lewd questions regarding the exposure they had just witnessed.

The panel of officers deliberated for 45 minutes to find him guilty of indecently exposing himself on two occasions, in violation of Article 120c.

"All my life, I wanted to be a U.S. Air Force fighter pilot," he said. "I'm deeply sorry for the pain my behavior has caused ... and for bringing disgrace to the Air Force."

They came back from deliberation a second time and sentenced Sears to 30 days in confinement and a dismissal, which is equivalent to a dishonorable discharge. With that sentence comes an automatic forfeiture of all pay and allowances.