The Air Force Academy last week announced a decision by Brigadier General Johnny Weida to court-martial Douglas Meester, 20, the first cadet to be tried since the rape scandal erupted last year. Weida's move-counter to a recommendation by investigator Major Todd McDowell not to send the case to trial-was applauded by victim advocates. "Clearly, the fact that the judicial process is moving forward, regardless of the outcome, indicates that these cases are being taken more seriously," Dick Wadhams, spokesman for US Sen. Wayne Allard (R-CO) told USA Today.
Meester is accused of raping a female cadet last October after she had been drinking with upperclassmen in his dorm. The woman reported the incident to her cadet commander and academy administrators but was instead disciplined for violating rules against having sex with upperclassmen and faced reprimands for illegal drinking, according to the Denver Post.
Should the judge and jury determine that the woman was "asleep, unconscious or intoxicated to the extent that she lacked the mental capacity to consent" to sexual intercourse, Meester could face a maximum sentence of life in prison and dismissal from the Air Force, reported the Denver Post. No trial date has been set.
Media Resources: Reuters 7/2/03; USA Today 7/3/03; Denver Post 7/3/03, 7/6/03; Feminist Daily News Wire
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SisterReach, a grassroots organization focused on "empowering, organizing, and mobilizing women and girls in the community around their reproductive and sexual health to make informed decisions about themselves," organized the press conference "to call attention to the unique concerns Black and poor communities throughout Shelby County and across the state of Tennessee face on a daily basis" and to emphasize how the upcoming election "could further limit [black women's] reproductive, economic, political, and social autonomy."
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