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Woman who falsely accused former Army colonel of rape now has to pay millions in damages

August 16, 2017

A woman will have to pay $8.4 million to a former colonel whom she claimed raped her when they were both cadets at West Point in 1986, a court recently ruled. The court has ordered Susan Shannon to pay up $3.4 million in compensation and an additional $5 million in punitive damages.

Shannon, a former West Point cadet, accused retired Col. David “Wil” Riggins of rape and filed a lawsuit in Virginia district court in 2014, after she blogged about her story in 2013.

Shannon alleged that Riggins raped her after she blacked out drinking beer at Eisenhower Hall at West Point.

“I felt the need to tell the story about a rape of a soldier I personally know: that soldier is me,” she wrote on July 15, 2013, on her blog, “Short Little Rebel,” according to an Army Times report. That blog post has since seemingly been taken down.

“The man who raped me, Will [Riggins], class of 1987, is now a Colonel in the Army. The rape is the reason I left West Point. So, while his military career is soaring, I left mine far behind,” Shannon wrote.

Shannon has since continued to blog, and also posts on social media. She most recently posted about the outcome of the lawsuit, saying: “Riggins and Horvath [Riggins’ attorney] think that just because they won, they have the truth. They think I will be a silent lamb as they destroy my name and character. They picked on the wrong stay at home mother! I don’t have Riggins’ money, but I will ALWAYS have the truth of what happened in 1985. Always. And so will he. And we will both meet our Maker someday, regardless of what man’s court said.”

The lawsuit stated that Riggins said the two dated briefly, and that Shannon left West Point for medical school.

The jury determined that Shannon defamed Riggins with her blog posts about the alleged rape.

Her accusation led to the end of Riggins’ career then, and he lost his nomination for promotion to one-star general. There was also an Army criminal investigation because of the lawsuit.

However, a jury ruled on August 1 that Shannon did not tell the truth, and that she defamed Riggins, the Associated Press said August 11, according to a report.

“The allegations of rape were investigated by U.S. Army [Criminal Investigation Command], and it was determined that there was no testimonial or physical evidence to corroborate Defendant Susan Shannon‘s statements concern Colonel David W. Riggins,” according to the lawsuit, the report stated.

Riggins said, in his defense, that cadets are not served beer on campus and were not allowed to drink at all at the time; he also didn’t have a car on campus, so he couldn’t have driven her home, according to the report.

“When pressed on the details as to what happened, Susan Shannon does not state that she actually recalls the alleged rape by David W. Riggins,” according to the complaint, as reported. “Rather, she only asserts that she woke up the next morning and concluded that she had sexual intercourse with someone the night before.”

Actual damages paid out will probably be closer to $2.3 million, according to the report, and Shannon’s attorneys plan to appeal.