A former Fort Hood soldier who had his sexual assault conviction reversed has completed his enlistment and had his rank, back pay and personal property restored to him, an Army official said.
Pfc. Thomas Chestnut, 28, was released Dec. 23 from the military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., after an appellate court overturned his guilty verdict in December, according to Lt. Col. Jennifer R. Johnson, an Army spokeswoman at the Pentagon.
“While in confinement, Pfc. Chestnut reached his date of expiration of term of service,” Johnson said. “The impact of the overturning of his court-martial conviction is that his time served in confinement is now considered ‘good time’ and, thus, counts toward his contractual service obligation.”
The Army Court of Criminal Appeals overturned the conviction by citing evidence as “factually insufficient.”
The case stems from a sexual assault of a man in August 2012 at Fort Sam Houston near San Antonio.
Chestnut was found guilty by a military jury June 24, 2014, on one count of sexual assault and found not guilty of one specification of assault consummated by a battery. Chestnut, who is openly gay, said during the trial that the encounter with the other soldier was consensual.
He was sentenced July 2, 2014, to three years in prison at Fort Leavenworth, a reduction in rank to private and forfeiture of all pay.
Chestnut was processed for administrative separation from the Army in the same manner as any service member who completes his or her contractual term of military service.
He “will have restored all rights, privileges, and property affected by the executed portion of his court-martial. This includes forfeited pay and allowances and other entitlements,” Johnson told the Herald in an email.
Back pay based on military basic pay charts for a private first class could be at least $61,500, not including housing or food allowances.
Chestnut’s mother, Melissa Chestnut, managed a website about her son’s case and the effort to free him, since the charges surfaced more than two years ago.
“Thomas is not the only soldier going through this and we need to help them all,” she posted recently.