JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A local service member made her voice heard on social media earlier this week after she accused another military member of rape and blamed the military and criminal justice system for not taking strong enough action.
Staff Sgt. Kacie Suchanek said the sexual assault happened off base eight months ago in October. There was an arrest in December, and the State Attorney’s Office is investigating. So far no formal charges have been filed.
Frustrated with the prosecutor’s view of the case, Suchanek took her complaints to TikTok where the video has received more than 1.4 million views in five days.
“My name is Staff Sgt. Kacie Suchanek and today marks eight months since I’ve been raped,” Suchanek said in the video. “I’ve absolutely had it and I’m at my breaking point. I’m currently being failed by both the military and the criminal justice system in Duval County, Florida, the Fourth Judicial Circuit.”
News4JAX sat down with Suchanek earlier this week. Suchanek said she has been with military for five years.
“I’m E5 enlisted staff sergeant -- I’m actually a medical technician with the 125th medical group,” Suchanek said.
She told News4JAX the encounter with the suspect did start out consensual.
A Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office arrest report obtained by News4JAX shows she told police on October 16 she had been raped on October 11. Suchanek told police that she and a friend were intoxicated when they arrived at the suspect’s Jacksonville home that night. She said the suspect was “handsy” with her when she arrived, and then she said she had four drinks by the pool.
“He brought me into his room -- I thought we would maybe just make out, and that’s when he became very violent with me. And he forced me to perform oral sex and then continued to rape me,” she said. “I was telling him no. I was trying to push him off of me. He was probably almost a foot taller than me. He had me pinned down....my head, suffocated into a pillow.”
She said that afterward, they went to the living room, where their friends were listening to music. Then, she told police, he yanked her into the bedroom and raped her again.
“So he grabbed me around my throat and shoved me into the room and up against a wall, and I just remember my head slamming against the wall,” she said.
She told News4JAX she told her friend she was raped when they got to the car to leave, as well as two other friends, one of whom convinced her to get a rape kit done.
“I opened myself up to 11 hours of questioning, taking pictures, swabs, getting a physical examination done again...having to go through that, having to feel violated all over again,” she said.
According to the police report, “the victim sustained injuries consistent with this incident as evidenced by the medical examination.”
Suchanek said the military sent her to Texas for three months of treatment earlier this year after she was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. She said the PTSD didn’t come from combat -- but from the sexual assault.
“Before I started my treatment, I used to get flashbacks, God, like 20 times a day, maybe more,” she said.
Records show the man accused of the sexual assault was arrested on two charges of sexual battery in December. He was released on bond, placed on GPS monitoring, ordered to stay away from the victim, and prohibited from using alcohol and drugs. The police report also said the suspect made statements to the victim apologizing, saying, “I caused this trauma on you, and I have to live with it!” and “I’m so sorry, I know alcohol was involved and that’s no excuse.”
Suchanek said those statements were made during a phone call and recorded by a detective. So far, the prosecutor’s office has not asked a grand jury to indict the suspect and has not filed a formal charging document with the court.
Suchanek said the state attorney was prepared to drop the case against the man she says violently raped and beat her if she didn’t accept a plea deal for him on a lesser charge.
“The prosecutors wanted me to accept a plea for a simple battery charge with ten months probation from drinking alcohol against my rapist, but I was not happy with that,” she said. “I told them that I didn’t accept that, so they said ok, we’re going to drop the case.”
News4JAX asked, “Have they said why they want you to take this plea deal?”
“No, they just keep trying to tell me that that’s the best I’m going to get,” Suchanek said. “They think that the evidence I have is going to make it look like two consenting adults that took it too far.”
“If you went to trial and you lost, would it still be worth it to you to go through that process?” News4JAX asked.
“I think it would because I would be able to you know...there are so many cases that don’t even make it that far, and there are so many men and women that don’t even get to stand at a trial and tell their story,” Suchanek said. “It’s how you create change. It’s how you know motivate others to speak up about what happened to them.”
Her TikTok is already starting conversations, with more than 13,500 comments.
“I wanted to put pressure on them to do better, to take a second look, to think twice before disregarding any case, especially sexual assault cases,” she said.
Suchanek said she met Thursday with the State Attorney’s Office Special Victim’s Unit director, who told her they would re-evaluate the evidence.
Suchanek said one reason she feels failed by the military is that are no military consequences for the suspect for now. She said that’s because the suspect is a National Guard member, so the military doesn’t intervene when National Guard members are not on orders.
News4JAX reached out to the State Attorney’s Office, which said: “We are unable to comment as it is still an active case and active investigation.”
News4JAX also reached out to the suspect’s attorney and a military spokesperson. We are waiting to hear back.
National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-7233