PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — The U.S. Supreme Court will be hearing a Treasure Coast veteran's case Tuesday after she has been trying for years to get justice for being raped in the military.
Port St. Lucie resident Harmony Allen served in the Air Force. When she was 19 years old, she said she was beaten and raped by her instructor, Master Sgt. Richard Collins.
The beating was so brutal, she was photographed with bruises all over her body. She told WPTV that Collins threatened her life if she spoke of the rape. Still, Allen came forward and told military officials that she had been raped in 2000.
"In 2000, in 2001, in 2006 and 2011," she added. "The military just sort of kept sweeping it under the rug. … Throughout my military career, I tried to get justice for it."
However, when she reported the rape, she kept Collins' name a secret for more than 10 years.
But by 2014, Allen named her attacker, and the lengthy process of interviews and interrogations began to prepare to take Collins to trial.
In 2017, Collins was convicted of rape, battery and assault. He was sentenced to 16 1/2 years in prison but released after serving just two years. Collins appealed his sentence and won.
The Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces concluded that the Uniform Code of Military Justice allows prosecution of a rape that occurred between 1986 and 2006 only if it was discovered and charged within five years.
This is contradictory to the National Defense Authorization Acts of 1987 and 2006, which states that heinous offenses, including rape, have no statute of limitations in the military.
Because Allen did not disclose Collins' name within five years of the rape, she feels Collins wrongfully won a statute of limitations appeal. Now, Allen hopes the Supreme Court will reverse Collins' appeal. The justices will decide whether there is a five-year statute of limitations for rape charges and convictions in the military.
"I want them to state that there is no statute of limitations for rape and there never has been, which is actually the way the military law has been read," Allen said.
She also said Collins was released with military benefits and back pay.
Allen will not be able to attend the hearing in-person because of COVID-19 precautions, but she will be listening to the hearing in the Washington office of U.S Rep. Brian Mast, R-Fla.
Mast was a major proponent in support Allen's case and helped elevate her case to be heard by the Supreme Court.
Allen said Mast helped her arrange various congressional meetings.
"He went ahead and submitted it to the U.S. Supreme Court, and one of the most exciting days was when the Supreme Court accepted my case," she said.