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Air Force Pilot Outed By False Criminal Accusation

Jim Burroway

August 24th, 2009

Air Force Lt. Col Victor Fehrenbach has made the rounds on radio and television ever since he came forward with the news that the Air Force was trying to discharge him under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” He even scored a meeting at the White House during the much-derided LGBT Cocktail Party to mark the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion in June. What hasn’t been told was how Lt. Col Fehrenbach got caught in the DADT crosshairs to begin with:

Fehrenbach confronted a crisis in a very different setting. A Boise police detective sat across a conference table questioning him about an alleged crime.

Fehrenbach, stationed at Mountain Home Air Force Base, was in a Catch-22. To clear himself of the claim he’d raped a man, Fehrenbach could tell police his side of the story. But admitting he’d had consensual sex could get him kicked out of the Air Force he loved after 18 years.

Fehrenbach asked Detective Mark Vucinich whether his employer had a right to see his statement. Yes, replied Vucinich.

Fehrenbach then told the detective he had sex with Cameron Shaner on May 12, 2008. He’d met Shaner, 30, on a gay Web site and invited him to his southeast Boise home.

Police and Air Foce investigations found no evidence that Lt. Col. Fehrenbach committed any crime. But Shaner, a discharged Army Veteran with a 100 percent service-connected disability for post-traumatic stress disorder and skeletal injuries, pressed the Air Force to begin discharge proceedings against Fehrenbach — all because of a false allegation:

Because of the criminal allegation, Victor confirmed the fact he was gay,” said Emily Hecht, a lawyer for the Servicemembers Legal Defense Fund. “That’s all the Air Force needed. Had his accuser been a woman, he’d have gone back to work with no further issue.”

The unique circumstances behind Fehrenbach’s case has caught the attention of Defense Secretary Bill Robert Gates and Air Force Secretary Michael Donley, who has the final call on whether Fehrenbach will be dismissed. He is currently still on active duty at Mountain Home Air Force Base near Boise, Idaho.

Comments

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Leonard Drake
August 24th, 2009 | LINK

That is completely messed up. Another reason why DADT(DP) needs to be repealed. (Also, the city is misspelled: it is Boise.)

gar
August 24th, 2009 | LINK

Good grief. Will this madness ever come to an end?

Gregory
August 25th, 2009 | LINK

Whoa. A little unrelated, but that detective is my uncle twice removed. Weird. I didn’t even know this was going on in my hometown of Boise. Again, evidence that DADT(DP) is dated and broken and needs to be repealed.

GDad
August 25th, 2009 | LINK

Quick correction – The Defense Sec’y is Robert Gates, not Bill. You can delete this comment if you want, and nobody will ever know.

Timothy Kincaid
August 25th, 2009 | LINK

GDad, Thanks.

Penguinsaur
August 25th, 2009 | LINK

So a 30-something man *I’m guessing, they said the other guy was 30* has to find dates on the frickin internet and never let anyone know or he’ll lose the career he’s worked his whole life at.

Yeah, we can’t possibly repeal this policy. Can you just imagine how AWFUL it would be for some poor homophobe to share a shower with a gay? Better to just ruin people’s lives for ever admitting they had sex. That’s the fair thing.

Matt
August 25th, 2009 | LINK

The more of these stories I see, the more I wonder why gay people even want to serve in the US Armed Forces in the first place. I can understand the urge to serve one’s country, but there’s got to be a better way to do so without joining an organization that essentially supports and encourages gay repression.

Become a cop or firefighter, join the Peace Corps, or something like that instead, imo.

skookster
August 27th, 2009 | LINK

According to Dan Popkey, the Idaho Statesman reporter who got the details on Fehrenbach’s outing, Cameron Shaner has left Boise State and returned to Arizona. It would be interesting if another reporter could get Shaner’s story, his decision to seek revenge against Fehrenbach, his reaction to the resulting publicity and controversy. An exposé, if you will.

Jarred
August 27th, 2009 | LINK

Matt:

For starters, a gay person would likely run into many of the same problems in their local police department or fire department. Sure, there might not be an official policy of terminating employment if one is found to be LGBT and there might even be a law or policy explicitly forbidding discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. But that doesn’t mean it would be a walk in the part.

Also, I get the impression that the number of job openings for both police and firefighters is awful small and there’s usually an overabundance of applicants waiting to fill those positions. The likelihood of getting into one of those positions is probably much smaller than the likelihood of getting into the military, which has been struggling to meet its recruiting requirements for years now.

Also, it may be about more than just serving one’s country. Military service can provide essential connections, tools, and training for future career plans. Remember that for the past couple decades, short term military service has been promoted as an alternative for those young men and women who want to work towards a better future for themselves but don’t feel called towards college. I can see why LGBT might consider that route themselves.

But in the end, their reasons are their own. And whatever they are, it’s a route they should be allowed to take, just like their heterosexual compatriots.

DC
February 17th, 2011 | LINK

I find Shaner’s ‘investigation’ to be interesting. I have read that his unidentified acquaintance claimed that a group of gay hiv+ civilians were inviting servicemen to sex parties in hopes of infecting them. Any servicemen that could support this story would be at risk of outing themselves. Shaner believed that Fehrenbach had information about this group. Was Shaner attempting to seduce Fehrenbach into revealing knowledge of said group? What might be the motivation then behind the rape accusation? I realize he’s been discredited by the Air Force and Idaho Police, but why would he do all of this?
Even if it’s the ravings of a quack, there is more to the back story in all of this…

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