Protest Targets Lt. Col. James Wilkerson, Accused of Raping Kimberly Hanks

| by Michael Allen
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Protesters appeared outside a Tucson, Arizona military base on Thursday to denounce the Air Force for transferring Lt. Col. James Wilkerson to the base after his rape conviction was overturned.

According to the Associated Press, about 50 people demonstrated for 45 minutes outside the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. They were led by family members of Kimberly Hanks, whom Wilkerson was originally convicted of raping at his home.

The "Protect Our Defenders" protesters rallied because Wilkerson was transferred to the Tuscon, where many of Hanks' family members live.

"They could send him to a number of places," said Stephen Hanks, the brother of Kimberly Hanks. "Why send him to a place where her family lives? It makes no sense."

Hanks accused Wilkerson of sexually assaulting her after a March 2012 party at his house.

A military jury in November 2012 convicted Wilkerson of aggravated sexual assault and other charges. However, Lieutenant General Craig Franklin overturned the case single-handedly, citing his “convening authority," reported

In a letter to Air Force Secretary Michael Donley to defend his decision, Franklin suggested the victim might have been at fault.

"[Wilkerson's] assignment was based on his qualifications and the needs of the Air Force," said Lt. Col. Brett Ashworth, an Air Force spokesman.

Sources: Associated Press,,