A while back someone pointed out the website of Susan Shannon, a jewelry designer in the Seattle Area, who writes under the name Shortlittlerebel. She is a faux Conservative with views that many find intolerant, bigoted, ignorant, racist, and even insane. This is all hardly unusual, these types plague the internet, but Ms. Shannon has a certain flair for the melodramatic and excessively offensive. What was interesting about Susan Shannon was her backstory, which is extremely convoluted and likely largely fabricated. She claimed to have attended West Point. She did not graduate, she left before graduating. She claimed to have been a business consultant. She claimed to have had a DBA. And so on…
A while back, she also claimed she was sexually assaulted while at West Point, and she named a specific individual. Naturally this is a significant charge. The individual in question was up for a promotion to Brigadier General, a rising star as it were. Apparently he did not get promoted, and is now suing Ms. Shannon for her accusation, which he claims is unfounded and a defamation of character, I believe. I also believe Ms. Shannon is going to lose, and lose badly, and I am not sure she knows it. This is a difficult situation, victims of sexual assault deserve justice. The accused deserve due process as well, however. In many cases even the accusation of sexual impropriety is enough to serve as guilt, which is unfortunate for those who are innocent, but it is the severity of the charge that makes the reaction relatively understandable.
Unfortunately for Ms. Shannon, her whole line of defense seems to rest on her departure from West Point, and is problematic on several fronts. With any sexual assault it is difficult to discern fact from fiction, most cases are “he-said/she-said”. Nevertheless, with Ms. Shannon, it is the rest of her story that does not add up, her entire life seems a convoluted lie. Nothing she says seems to make sense, and I suspect she will have to pay significantly for her comments about her case, independent of the guilt or innocence of her accuser. I have done some research on this and I am trying to weigh the case in my mind.
First off, Ms. Shannon does not seem to be a stable or truthful individual. Nothing in her copious commentary on life, the universe, and everything make the slightest amount of sense. For background, I went to a Service Academy, and I know more than a little about how they operate. This is important, because a lot of what Ms. Shannon says would be incomprehensible to a member of the Academy family, but to the uninitiated (literally) it may have credence, which she may think bolsters her case, but really does not. I know of cases where someone was assaulted, and cases where an assault was claimed falsely to avoid punitive action (two people caught having sex on Academy grounds and then the woman claimed assault once caught. The fact that the woman told her friends she was going off to have sex immediately prior and had been planning it for some time… makes the claim dubious).
For background, Ms. Shannon starts by stating that she left West Point immediately prior to her senior year. This is an odd time to leave, as it can carry financial burden or service in the Enlisted ranks per contract, but not always as will be discussed. She had completed three years of schooling, and was under contract. She states that she took three days to out-process. Once out, she apparently continued her schooling at Stony Brook University on Long Island. She then proceeded to Germany where she did extensive management consulting with a DBA if her LinkedIn account is believed. She at some point married, moved to Seattle, and settled down to make jewelry for the local Farmer’s Market. This is her autobiography. It all comes from her self identification, and it is really odd.
Unfortunately, her time at West Point is very problematic. She has stated over and over that she gave up a medical career to leave West Point. This is seen in such statements as…
I would have left the Army at 42 years old as a surgeon with no medical school debt and a full resume of battlefield or Walter Reid hospital experience behind me. I would have graduated from West Point and any medical school of my choice free of charge.
Looking at this from the POV of her accuser’s attorney, this is a very bad statement from Ms. Shannon, and very good for the plaintiff. First, getting selected by the military to attend medical school from the academy is VERY difficult. Out of 1000 graduates, usually no more than 10-20 go to medical school, mostly on the 10 side of that spectrum. I cannot remember exactly how many people went to medical school after graduation in my class, but I believe it was only eight or nine, at most. You have to have excellent grades and significant medical potential.
Ms. Shannon does not seem to have had this potential, or grades. Her grades were, by her own admission, bad. And there is circumstantial evidence that they were very bad. She left West Point, one of the most exclusive and academically demanding schools in the US, and attended a mediocre school by comparison, not necessarily terrible, but nowhere in the same league as West Point. Had she been academically astute, she could have gone to a very good school, likely on scholarship. Most West Pointers I know/knew who left could have gone on to Ivy League schools, or somewhere similarly demanding (Chicago for example), and found them actually easier than the Academies. Ms. Shannon went to an OK regional school, but not an exceptional national one. And she took four years (or 14, her statements are not clear) to graduate. This makes no sense either. She was a Senior, she had three years under her belt. At a minimum, she could have transferred credits for Freshman and Sophomore 100/200 level courses to dive directly into her new major. The Academies have a lot of Military Science classes and other specific requirements that tend to amusingly flabbergast admissions officials from other universities (hand to hand combat for one), but some classes should have transferred. The very real possibility exists that her grades, poor by her own admission, did not allow them to be transferred. This raises some questions about her academic career. These academic problems will likely be exploited by the plaintiff’s lawyer, and Ms. Shannon should be asked to explain her public comments about the loss of her medical career, which never existed in the first place.
I have to confess that I also consider Ms. Shannon a poorly educated individual from the onset, and somewhat lacking in certain mental capacities, which may color my commentary. As will be discussed later, she has conflicts with just about everyone, including her local schools, and she frequently refers to her local principal as the “principle” unaware of the homophone. She referred to the opposing counsel in the lawsuit against her as the “council” making a similar mistake. She displays a terrible knowledge of history, religion, politics, or any other subject. So this may contribute to considering her academic record is poor, but the evidence seems to play out to support her poor intellectual standing.
If I were the plaintiff’s attorney I would start with Ms. Shannon’s academic record. It is undoubtedly poor, and as such, how could she possibly claim to have had any chance at a medical career? She blamed her poor academic standing on her roommate’s sexual misconduct, which she apparently reported and was shunned for the betrayal. Cadets have a sense of loyalty and Ms. Shannon apparently breached it. Coupled with her poor academic record, as well as poor performance reports from senior officers, there would be little reason for her to stay at West Point. This would seem like ample reason to leave, none of which had to result from a sexual assault. This does not mean it did not happen, but there was a LOT showing how she was a poor cadet in any case.
There is the also the matter of her quick dismissal. Ms. Shannon believes that her quick separation from the Army is evidence that they suspected there was something wrong and they did not ask for either money or service on separating because there was something suspicious with her case. This is pretty much untrue. When you leave an academy after your Junior year starts, you are obligated. This is a “go/no-go” point for many, and the threat of leaving is that you have to either pay (A LOT) or serve. But there is a little known caveat that no one really talks about. Let’s say someone leaves, but they are just a terrible case, a soup sandwich if you will. The military could tell them to pay, but if they want to serve instead? The military has no desire to have someone like that in the ranks, so…. In these cases it is not unheard of to let the person quietly slip away into obscurity. I know a few first-hand accounts of this happening. Again, by Ms. Shannon’s own admission, this is what she was, a terrible cadet with no real benefit to the Army. She had poor evaluations from her senior officers, and they considered her a mediocre at best. She has several personality conflicts (foreshadowing the personality conflicts she would have with everyone else in her future life). This is public record, and Ms. Shannon should not really beg it into the record, but her claims that she was run out ignore the poor performance she had. This is only part of the problem, however.
Post Stony Brook, or during (her LinkedIn account says she took 14 years to graduate but I think she should have put 1990 instead of 2000), she claimed to have done significant consulting in Germany. This is really sketchy. For one, one of the companies she referenced went out of business while she was consulting, and I really question how someone who left West Point, attended a mediocre Long Island school, would then go on to do major consulting. Then there is the odd DBA in her profile. In the business world, this is a Doctorate in Business Administration. If Ms. Shannon claims a DBA, it would be interesting. She may have a diploma mill degree, she may not have one at all. Maybe she is implying the degree, but it stands for something else? In any case, the claims of major consulting are incredibly fishy, and if investigated I think she would not like the results be made public. Perhaps she did engage is significant consulting, but if it is true, the plaintiff’s attorney could simply ignore it, if it is a lie, this is one more piece of evidence that Ms. Shannon is a compulsive liar who makes things up all of the time. The benefit to this is entirely with the plaintiff’s attorney, with no advantage to Ms. Shannon at all. These sort of one-sided circumstances pop up all over her case, which makes it very weak.
But there is more. Over the course of her life, almost everything Ms. Shannon does or says is based around being as extremely controversial as possible. She actually courts controversy, and does so in a manner that is as absurd as it is public. She made a furor by stating that the government orchestrated the Newtown massacre, going as far as to impugn the families of the murdered children as complicit in the plot. She also claimed that “they are deleting my search results to kill my publicity”. She actively WANTS publicity. She DEMANDS it. She has been engaged in public fights with her local school, her children’s teachers, her own pastor, and various other figures. She has at times made offensive comments about Muslims, Catholics, other Protestants, Mormons, Jews, all non-Christians, Blacks, Hispanics, Democrats, Moderate Republicans, homosexuals, and just about anyone who is not her. The jury pool available to her that would tolerate her prejudices likely is a room of one. All of this only adds to the problems she faces. Someone who craves and demands publicity as she so publicly does….? This individual is not well positioned to defend herself on charges that she lied about an assault. The jury pool, which has to include some of these members or members who have friends or family who fit into this category…?
It would also be easy to introduce this evidence into the case. Normally, the fact that a defendant is wildly prejudiced might not have any basis in the argument at hand. But if the plaintiff’s lawyer is good, his entire case should be that Ms. Shannon is a nut-job, and makes all sorts of crazy claims. He then can use all of the bigoted, prejudiced, inane, false, and silly things she has said, of any sort. He could reference her Bible studies and bring in a professor of theology to show that Ms. Shannon has a barely functional understanding of Christian theology. Why would someone so uneducated on theological issues set themselves up as an authority? Because she craves attention. He could reference her comments about how the Pope is Satanic, and all of the Catholic members of the jury are gone. Mention her bigoted or racist comments, Hispanics and Blacks are gone. And so on…
None of this is hard. Consider the comment that Ms. Shannon made about Muslims…
“First, it was the Arabs who conquered most of Eastern Europe during the Ottoman Empire.”
This is decidedly odd, since the Ottoman Empire was not actually Arab. It was Turkish. The fact that the current country is called Turkey might demonstrate this. Another…
“ALSO, the Ottoman empire (what was left of it), then allied itself with GERMANY in WWI- remember those guys?”
This is true, the Turks did align themselves with the Germans, but the Arabs allied themselves with the British (Lawrence of Arabia, it was a very good movie, she should know something about that). Or…
“Other Arab Muslims- called the Young Turks. From Turkey.”
Turks are not Arabs. Young Turks were not Arabs…they were young Turks. Simple history.
This is one reason I think Ms. Shannon is poorly educated, she does not even bother to learn what would be readily available on Wikipedia before speaking, but this only puts nails in her coffin. She does not care whether or not what she says is even true before saying it…she just says things. And does this bode well for her accusations of sexual assault? Not really.
And then there is the assault itself. On her own blog she bragged that she was not cooperating with the investigation at all, an odd decision. If her accused is now suing her, the Army likely concluded that the evidence was either inconclusive (and accused are innocent until proven guilty) or unsubstantiated. The Plaintiff will likely provide a parade of character references, superb performance evaluations, and lines of people testifying that he is an exemplary military officer. Ms. Shannon, on the other hand, has to face a list of people she hates, completely absurd and extreme things she has said, blatantly false accusations she has made in the past, and a list of people who she has offended with her antics. As a cadet she had “personality conflicts” with others. As an adult, is there any question this tendency continued? All of this should be brought out, if the Plaintiff’s counsel is any good, to show how Ms. Shannon is a reckless individual who makes wild accusations at the drop of a hat, and cannot be considered reliable at all.
And if you note, none of this has anything to do with the actual reality of what happened to her. It is possible she may have been assaulted. This may have happened, but her case is so hurt by the melodrama that is this woman’s public persona, that it is almost impossible to believe her. If the Plaintiff focuses on the absurdity of Ms. Shannon’s claims, he can completely discredit her without addressing the claims at all (which have no real evidence other than the accusation to begin with). Normally this would backfire in these cases, attacking the victim is never advisable, but Ms. Shannon has made such a spectacle of herself it is almost impossible to divorce her melodrama from the accusation. And when there is no evidence that the attack occurred, or that it did not, there is a tendency to side with the alleged victim because of the heinous nature of the attack, but the weight of evidence of extreme, exaggerated, or outright bizarre things Ms. Shannon has said, the claim becomes drowned out by the high probability that she is doing little more than attention seeking for her own melodramatic ends.
Ms. Shannon’s best defense is to turn this melodrama to her side by admitting she is absolutely batty. Were she to admit that she is more than a little crazy, and not responsible for her claims, she would likely be believed. This has all of the benefits of seeming true. Something is wrong with Ms. Shannon, she acts like an insane woman, and being sexually assaulted could do that to a person. She could parade out the lists of untruths, bizarre acts, continual conflicts with others, and absurd accusations as evidence of her continued trauma. Such a defense would be highly plausible, but it would require Ms. Shannon to admit that everything from her opinions to her statements are abundantly absurd, and I do not think she would ever do this.
In the end, I am not really sure what happened. I think there is some possibility she was attacked, but her case has been so damaged by Ms. Shannon herself that she is likely going to lose everything.