Douglas Meester, the Air Force cadet accused of rape last year, settled his case with a reprimand and a fine of $2000 on Tuesday. As part of the plea deal, the original charges of rape, forcible sodomy, indecent assault and conduct unbecoming an officer for providing alcohol to minors were dismissed, reported the Colorado Gazette. These charges were replaced with dereliction of duty for providing alcohol to minors, conduct unbecoming an officer for having sex with a drunken woman and indecent acts for having sex as another male slept nearby. Had Meester been convicted, the Air Force Print News reported that he would have faced, at most, a life sentence, dismissal from the Air Force and a forfeiture of pay. The agreement will be reviewed in the next couple weeks by academy superintendent Lt. Gen. John Rosa Jr. for final approval.
Meester was 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. This was the first trial since the Air Force rape scandal two years ago, and Meester is so far the only cadet to face a court martial.
Believing the chances of conviction were slim and wishing to avoid the further anxiety and emotional upheaval of a formal court martial, the woman "tepidly endorsed the deal," reported the Colorado Gazette. Following the incident, she left the Air Force Academy voluntarily in November 2002. The Air Force Print News reports that Meester is still officially a cadet at the academy. However, he is currently attending college in Florida.
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .