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Archive for Thursday, April 24, 2003

Lawyer says charges pending in Air Force Academy case

April 24, 2003

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— Military prosecutors are pursuing charges against two Air Force Academy cadets who allegedly raped a freshman female cadet in a dorm room last fall, the woman's lawyer said Wednesday.

The cadet from Pennsylvania reported the alleged attack immediately after it occurred in October and underwent a medical examination, lawyer Steve Werner said. He said she later was disciplined for fraternizing with older cadets and for drinking.

Air Force Academy spokeswoman Pam Ancker confirmed that an Article 32 hearing was scheduled May 14 but she declined to discuss the case, the possible charges or who was involved.

Article 32 hearings are similar to preliminary hearings in civilian courts and are held to determine if there is enough evidence to conduct a court-martial. The hearing was first reported in The Denver Post.

A third cadet who reportedly knew about the attack but did not report it also may face charges, Werner said.

The academy near Colorado Springs has been under scrutiny for months since dozens of female cadets said they were reprimanded or ostracized when they reported being raped. The school's top officers have been reassigned, and the Air Force and Defense Department have launched three investigations into what happened.

An independent civilian probe ordered by Congress is scheduled to begin May 8.

Earlier this month, the academy scheduled an Article 32 hearing for May 7 to determine whether a male cadet should be tried on a count of sexual assault involving a female cadet. He would be the first person prosecuted since a sex assault scandal erupted early this year.

Ancker said the alleged assault was not a rape.

In response to the scandal, the Air Force has issued 40 directives to make women feel safer at the academy, including blanket amnesty for cadets who report being assaulted and a decision to cluster female cadets together in dormitories.

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