Hearings Held for Cadets Charged in Air Force Sex Scandal
One month after new leadership was installed to quell the embarrassing sexual assault scandal plaguing the US Air Force Academy, hearings were held for two cadets accused of sexual assault. Last week, junior cadet Jason Lewis, charged with sexual harassment and indecent assault involving two women in November, declined to appear at a military pre-trial hearing (Article 32 hearing) to determine whether he would be court-martialed. A recommendation on his case is expected tomorrow. Meanwhile, an Article 32 hearing was scheduled today for sophomore cadet Douglas Meester, who is charged with rape, forcible sodomy, providing alcohol to minors, and indecent assault from an incident in October, reported the Denver Post.
The recent events highlight the academy's latest efforts to combat a problem that has prompted at least five military and civilian investigations. Last week, Brig. Gen. Johnny Weida reiterated the academy's commitment, pledging "I will give [women] my personal guarantee that we're going to do absolutely everything in our power to prevent an incident of sexual assault from happening and if it does... we'll handle it fairly and squarely," according to the Arbiter Online.
Last month, the academy unveiled its Agenda for Change, calling for dramatic shifts in student body structure, including greater adult oversight and a weakened student command chain, as well as implementation of 24-hour dorm security and monitoring. In addition, the proposals mandated reporting of rape by anyone with knowledge of the incident, including fellow cadets, academy counselors, and medical staff.
Media Resources: Associated Press 5/14/03, 5/11/03; Arbiter Online 5/8/03; Denver Post 5/14/03; 9News.com 5/14/03; Feminist Daily News Wire