A military judge has acquitted an Air Force staff sergeant of an allegation of an assault consummated by battery on a child under the age of 16 in general court martial proceedings.
Staff Sgt. Erik M. Black, the defendant who faced the allegation, embraced tearful supporters in the court room after the verdict was announced.
Lt. Col. Lynn Watkins, the military judge presiding over the case, quickly left the bench without further comment once she declared the “not guilty” verdict Thursday.
Black had pleaded not guilty. If convicted, the lab technician at the U.S. Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine, would have faced a maximum penalty of reduction to the lowest enlisted pay grade, confinement for two years and a dishonorable discharge from the Air Force.
Black had been accused of causing extensive bruises on a five-year-old boy while he was babysitting the child in base housing, according to base authorities and court proceedings. Dayton Children’s Hospital physician Dr. Vipul Garg, who examined the boy, testified this week that he had photographed bruises on the boy’s head, neck, arm, legs, back and genitals in April 2013.