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16 Accused Air Force Grads Still in Military

THE NATION

October 05, 2003|From Associated Press

DENVER — Sixteen Air Force Academy graduates accused of rape or sexual assault while attending the school are still on active duty in the U.S. military, the Air Force said.

A total of 18 cadets accused of sex crimes between 1993 and 2002 were allowed to graduate, Lt. Col. Dewey Ford said Saturday. One has died and another left the Air Force, he said.

Ford said one of the 15 Air Force officers is still under investigation in an alleged assault. One academy graduate went into the Army.

Of the 16, one officer was acquitted at a court-martial and one was absolved after his accuser recanted. None of the officers' names was released.

Ford could not provide exact numbers but said some of the other 12 officers serving in the Air Force had been disciplined for the alleged misconduct while still at the academy. In some cases, information about the alleged assaults may have been forwarded to their commanders.

The number of accused officers serving in the military was first reported by the Rocky Mountain News of Denver, which quoted Sen. Wayne Allard (R-Colo.) calling for a review of the cases to "make sure nobody bargained their way out."

The disclosures come amid a scandal over how the academy handled reports of sex crimes.

Dozens of female cadets have said commanders were complacent about their allegations and in some cases punished them for minor violations if they reported being sexually assaulted.

Since the sexual assault scandal surfaced this year, the Air Force has replaced the academy's top four commanders and demoted one before he retired. Air Force Secretary James Roche's nomination to become Army secretary has been held up over related questions.

A civilian panel mandated by Congress to investigate the academy said school commanders failed to heed warnings about sexual assaults. The panel recommended a full inquiry into which leaders were to blame.

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