By Skip Munger | News of the Force
[Editor’s Note: We received this information and court dockets from concerned parents in Florida Wing since they claim he has frequent contact with cadets. Thank you for your contribution. Lt Col Robert Sims is currently the Southeast Region Director of Information Technology Officer. He was appointed by Col Barry Melton, the Southeast Region Commander.]
Q: I am a long-term member of the CAP. I have been following your recent coverage with interest. Some of what you publish is very helpful. Some of it is interesting, but I don’t know how we could use it. For instance, you report (again) the story of Cadet Taylor Fealy’s abuse by Sims. That is a story that would make any normal person cringe. Yet you report that not the CAP, not the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, not the OSI, took any action on that case. What could any member of CAP – especially those not in the Florida Wing – possibly do with this information?
A: Those are good questions. You’re probably not the only one who wonders. We’ll do our best to answer them.
The Fealy case. NOTF recounted this story as an illustration of the point that outrageous things happened in the Florida Wing when Pineda was the wing commander and Bowling was the Southeast Region commander – and no one seemed to have to answer for them.
This case involves the sexual abuse of an underage female cadet, Taylor Fealy, by a CAP officer, then-1st Lt Robert Sims, in the Florida Wing. That is a criminal matter of statutory rape. The CAP has limited authority in criminal matters, but it is required to report to civil authorities and it certainly has an obligation to protect the cadets. Sims was not only not disciplined, but, for some time, took a position in CAP working with the cadets.
It also has to do with the arrest (by Pineda) of the cadet’s brother, Dustin Fealy. Dustin, just a kid then, showed up at a CAP meeting to publicly confront Pineda and Sims with his sister’s abuse, Pineda’s involvement in moving his sister in with Sims, and the CAP’s inaction. Pineda arrested Dustin on false charges. Reportedly, when Fealy’s case came before the bench, Pineda stood, whispering right into the judge’s ear. Because Fealy was on probation, he was found to be violating the probation and sent to prison. Pineda also escaped any discipline then – or later – for his role.
There isn’t much anyone can do about this case unless s/he can provide good testimony for a case Dustin Fealy is making to clear his name. In that case, if you will send a confidential message to Dustin Fealy, including contact information. NOTF will make sure it gets to him.
Members of the CAP can’t do much to change these realities, but they can be loud and persistent in demanding answers about how this – and so many other serious issues – seem to disappear into what everyone is starting to call “the black hole.” When that is known, the way should be cleared to remove some of the remaining rot and the CAP’s governance committee can start designing a system where this is less likely to happen.
So, we don’t know about you, but NOTF is really interested in knowing where these matters are being stopped and what’s in them that would make anyone so heavily invested in stopping them from reaching the daylight.
As to the SIMS caper: About a year-and-a-half ago, we [Skip Munger, News of the Force] interviewed Taylor Fealy, who at the time of the described incident was 15 years old; she’s now 22. At first, as soon as I told her my name, she said, “You work for the Civil Air Patrol and I don’t want to talk to you.” After I explained to her that I was no longer CAP and now an Internet news reporter, she agreed to speak to me.
Taylor told me that she did in fact move in with SIMS, then a senior member older that 18, with the help of several CAP members, including Pineda. She stated to me at the time that she was no longer living with SIMS. She also told me that she was, at that time, pregnant, but refused to tell me who the baby’s daddy is.
Taylor told me that when her brother, Dustin, came to a CAP meeting and tried to confront SIMS, Pineda was there, and threatened Dustin with arrest.
According to Dustin, who we also talked to, when the confrontation was over “and no assault of any kind occurred,” he left the meeting. He said “I went one way in my car, and SIMS and Taylor went the other way.”
Taylor advised us that Pineda has three CAP members, including herself, fill out sworn statements about the incident. She said that Pineda said he was going to use the statements only “to keep Dustin away from us…I had no idea that he was going to use them to send my brother to prison.” When I asked her who filled out those statements, she said, “Well, it was me, a senior member named Ed Wasserman, and I don’t remember the name of the other one.” She went on to say, “Pineda told us exactly what to write in the statements.”
When we asked further about Pineda, Taylor said, “Well, I know he’s a ‘dirty’ cop.” When we asked about specifics, she said she didn’t know any, “but his son can tell you about him. I think he’s in the CAP…somewhere.”
And, if fact, Pineda’s son is in the Nebraska Wing of the CAP. But, according to our information, there are two Antonio Pineda’s in that Wing, and we have no idea which is his son. The Nebraska Wing has been somewhat less than forthcoming in putting us in contact with Pineda’s son.
In the meantime, News of the Force requested a copy of the case file on Dustin from the Broward County Clerk of the Court in Ft. Lauderdale. They “stonewalled” ever since, but finally this month agreed to send us a copy of the court file on the case after a hefty payment from us for the copies. The case file is supposedly now on its way to us.
And, according to Dustin Fealy, Pineda showed up at Dustin’s job about two or three days after the incident at the CAP meeting. Dustin, who was on probation for another charge at the time, came from his office is Broward County (Ft. Lauderdale) down to Dade County (in Miami) and arrested him, thereby violating his probation. This is not something a state police officer in Florida would normally do — such things are beneath the “elite” FDLE. But Pineda had a personal stake in the issue.
According to Dustin, “my probation officer told me ‘Pineda is out to get you, and I really don’t understand why….but there’s nothing I can do because he’s FDLE.’”
In another mistake of law, Pineda told the then-Florida Wing commander, Col Andy Skiba, that under Florida law it was perfectly legal for a 15-year-old girl to move out of her parent’s house and to go and live with anybody she wants to. That, of course, is not true — in Florida, parents have complete control over their children until they reach the age of 18.
And, in 1998, Pineda actually tried to get me to sign a “counseling statement” certifying that while an employee of the Florida Wing I has “lost” all of the information and reports on the Fealy case. The fact is that no information on the case was ever sent to Wing. The first time I had ever heard of it was on the day that Taylor’s mother called the Wing asking for help. I told her I knew nothing about any of this as gave her the telephone number of the IG’s office at CAP national headquarters. I then immediately called Col Skiba and told him about the call, and he said, “Just don’t worry about this, Pineda is handling it. Don’t give that woman anybody’s phone numbers and don’t talk to her again. She’s a nut case.” I told Pineda exactly where he could file his “counseling statement.”
And, at the time we spoke to Taylor Fealy, SIMS was assigned as — you guessed it — the Florida Wing Cadet Programs Officer!
Despite the fact that Taylor was still a minor at the time, neither Pineda, the Florida Wing commander or anyone else made a report to the Florida child abuse authorities, as required of them by Florida law.
News of the Force has also requested copies of the files on these cadet child abuse issues — and on Pineda — from the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (OSI). In a response to our Freedom of Information Act request, which a federal agency has 20 working days to answer, we received the following reply from the OSI: “This letter is in response to your 6 Jan 2005 Freedom of Information Act request regarding the investigations of Antonio J. Pineda, the Civil Air Patrol, child and sexual abuse of Civil Air Patrol cadets…the information you requested may require some research or it may be classified, an extension of time may be required.”
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