Wichita Falls, TX – The issue of sexual assault in the military is not new. Neither is the involvement of career-driven investigators and commanders who exert Unlawful Command Influence (UCI) in cases ranging from sexual assault to war crimes. Those guilty of UCI must be held accountable for their actions so that victims will not continue to face the potential of wrongful convictions or harassment at the hand of those who do not fear repercussions for their actions.
In December 2019, Air Force Staff Sergeant (SSgt) Emalee Dalrymple began to have frequent conversations and interactions in the workplace with Jonathon Grimes, a civilian male co-worker, at Sheppard Air Force Base (SAFB), Texas. SSgt Dalrymple initially viewed Grimes as a father figure regarding topics such as life decisions, questions regarding home and vehicle maintenance, and she was aware that he was well-respected within the command.
While it began as a friendly work relationship, it led to playful flirtation by Grimes, and before SSgt Dalrymple knew it, Grimes quickly moved to lewd comments, groping in the office, and eventually to threats against her safety. Another female airman in the office had witnessed the unwanted groping but was too afraid to come forward.
As information began to surface during the ensuing investigation, the base commander would begin to exert UCI – making the victim seem like the guilty party while protecting the assailant.
SSgt Dalrymple had this to say about Grimes, “He was very charismatic. He knew a lot of people and it seemed like a lot of people liked him. I didn’t want to make him angry because he was already a very angry person, very threatening person. He would talk about really weird things in the workplace, not just sexual and vulgar things, but he would say things about killing people and harming people.”
By January 2020, once Grimes had become more obsessive and aggressive, SSgt Dalrymple was forced to overcome her fear of repercussion by the command and reported her claims of sexual assault and harassment. SSgt Dalrymple reported that he had groped her at the office, and while she was to go on leave, Grimes began asking repeatedly for a house key so he could check on her house and mail.
SSgt Dalrymple stated, “I was just going along with it until he started touching me. That’s when I could not do it anymore. And I told him, “I’m going to report you. Leave me alone. I’ve already told you to leave me alone.” And at this point he grabbed my arm and he said, “We both have a lot to lose”.
The initial investigation was conducted by the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (OSI). Grimes made the claim that they had consensual sexual intercourse on a particular date. SSgt Dalrymple denied those claims and was able to provide proof that it was not possible because she was with her mother, who was visiting, that day. She had receipts and bank records to prove their locations throughout that day.
An attorney at an advising legal office dismissed that evidence as they said that her mom could have left for ten or fifteen minutes, leaving Dalrymple ample time to have sex. SSgt Dalrymple stated, “I was floored. I was like there’s no way. They’re honestly taking this guy’s word over mine right now?”
A police reports shows that Grimes has a history of violent and abusive behavior toward his family. Some of those, as Child Protective Services called it, out-of-control behaviors, resulted in Grimes pulling his teenage daughter by the hair and spraying her with hot water under a sink, throwing her by her shirt collar, and striking her. The resulting injuries included bruising under her left eye, a cut inside her lip, and bruising under her left arm which remained visible for six days after the incident. Grimes was arrested only to have charges dropped after his daughter refused to cooperate with the investigation.
During the approximately 60-day investigation, Grimes was reassigned to a different workspace in order to provide the victim, SSgt Dalrymple, with a level of safety and separation. With a violent and abusive history like that, it is a mystery why investigators would seemingly begin to side with Grimes’ side of the story in light of the accusations made by Dalrymple.
By March 2020, SSgt Dalrymple’s special victim attorney notified her that the investigators wanted to do yet another interview with her. The interview quickly turned into an interrogation. The investigators asked the victim why Grimes would make the claim that they had sexual relations if they weren’t true. They lectured the victim about how Grimes’ marriage was failing as if to say Dalrymple was the cause.
After the interrogation was complete, the OSI detachment commander approached her and made a bizarre statement that her special victim attorney should escort her back to her office because an airman from another base had once killed himself after being interviewed. Once the attorney had rejoined Dalrymple, the commander repeated the same bizarre statement – leaving the victim with an uneasy feeling.
Not long after, SSgt Dalrymple received a notification that the command was planning to bring charges against her for making false official statements. Initially the prosecution wanted to send Dalrymple to an Article 15 hearing because of the likelihood that it would go to a court martial, but because Grimes is a civilian that was not a possibility. As a result, SSgt Dalrymple received a Letter of Reprimand (LOR) which could have prevented her from being promoted or receiving another assignment.
In a sense, it is just a piece of paper. But out of principle, SSgt Dalrymple wanted it removed from her record. Dalrymple began contacting various congressional offices for support. In turn, the congressional offices reached out to Dalrymple’s base commander who submitted a signed memo stating that the evidence against Grimes was inconclusive. The base commander’s action seemed to shut down any hope of congressional support until Dalrymple was able to reach the Congressional Justice for Warriors Caucus, who pledged their support for her case.
SSgt Dalrymple forced a meeting with the base commander. In it, she confronted him about the struggles and mental anguish she was experiencing and how inappropriate it was for him to sign letters obstructing her efforts with congress. Not long after the meeting, the commander informed Dalrymple that her LOR had been removed.
In October 2020, the attorney for Grimes’ soon-to-be ex-wife contacted SSgt Dalrymple to say that they were getting a divorce and to inform her that Grimes had put a hit out on Dalrymple. Grimes had sent Dalrymple’s address to an associate who works in a prison to hire somebody to come and cause physical harm to her. It was a strange sort of vindication for Dalrymple who had been trying to convince her command that Grimes was in fact a threat to her.
Not only had Grimes threatened SSgt Dalrymple with physical harm, but he was also alleged to have fired bullets through the rear windshield of his ex-wife’s attorney at the conclusion of a late-night divorce court session. Grimes’ ex-wife expressed that he had previously thrown rocks through her windows when she had tried to leave him previously. It is that type of violent behavior that caused Dalrymple to be hesitant to come forward – because she didn’t want to be a victim again.
Currently SSgt Dalrymple is fighting to ensure that her “criminal record” is expunged because she is a victim, not a criminal. SSgt Dalrymple stated, “This is important because what if this pops up when I’m trying to get a job one day and this false official statement charge that they’ve accused me of prevents me from having a career outside of the military?”
SSgt Dalrymple is also on a mission to hold the Air Force Office of Special Investigations accountable for their efforts to destroy her while protecting Grimes. She is also working on a formal complaint to hold accountable the commander who gave her the questionable Letter of Reprimand.
SSgt Dalrymple’s anticipated separation date from active duty is August 23, 2022, but she is fighting to be released earlier so she can attempt to move on with her life outside of the military system.
United American Patriots is supporting SSgt Emalee Dalrymple by accepting donations in order to aid her with the cost of obtaining additional court records involving Jonathon Grimes so that she can get a restraining order against her assailant.