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Af academy cadet charged rape { May 14 2003 }

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Air Force Academy Cadet Charged With Rape

The Associated Press
Wednesday, May 14, 2003; 12:16 AM

DENVER - For the first time since a sex scandal erupted at the Air Force Academy, the military charged a cadet Tuesday with raping and sodomizing a female cadet in a dorm room last fall.

Douglas Meester, a sophomore, was also charged with indecent assault and providing alcohol to two cadets in the Oct. 18 incident. The military equivalent of a pretrial hearing was scheduled to begin Wednesday to determine whether there is enough evidence to court-martial Meester.

Meester was off campus on leave. His defense counsel, Capt. Kathleen Reder, said only that Meester will not waive the hearing. She said they would decide after hearing the government's case whether he will testify.

The alleged victim was a freshman from Pennsylvania who reported the attack immediately and underwent a medical examination, said her lawyer, Steve Werner. He also said she was disciplined for fraternizing with older cadets and for drinking.

Werner had said he believed two cadets would be charged with rape.

Academy spokeswoman Pam Ancker said officials determined that only Meester was criminally liable. She declined further comment on the investigation.

The academy outside 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 are conducting investigations into what happened.

In the past 10 years, two Air Force cadets have been charged with rape. One was acquitted, and another pleaded guilty and was sentenced to seven months in jail. Administrative action was taken in other cases because there was not enough evidence to prosecute, officials said.

Last week, a military preliminary hearing was held for Cadet Jason Lewis, who is accused in a sex assault case. Military officials are deciding whether to proceed to a court-martial.

The El Paso County district attorney is also investigating at least one incident involving cadets.


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