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Air Force Stands by Decision to Court Martial Airman

Posted August 9, 2007

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— Pope Air Force Base officials are standing by their decision to press charges against a female airman who claims she was raped by three fellow airmen at a party in May 2006.

Airman 1st Class Cassandra Hernandez,20, said she decided not to testify against another airman because of the stress of dealing with the military justice system.
She said that is when the Air Force charged her with underage drinking and indecent conduct with three other airmen.

In a statement released Thursday, the Air Force said media coverage related to the charges against Hernandez was not completely accurate and that there is no cover-up.

"While there have been statements made that she is being prosecuted for refusing to testify, those statements are incorrect," the Air Force said.

"As a result of the inconsistencies and her unwillingness to testify, the charges against the individual were dismissed and the three airmen were subsequently punished using non-judicial punishment."

"Airman Hernandez was offered non-judicial punishment for the same offenses," the statement continued. "As was her right, she refused."

Lawyers for Hernandez, who had spoken publicly about her case last weekend, responded Thursday. They said their client refused the non-judicial punishment when "it was indicated that her rights would not be protected under the Manual for Courts-Martial. She was told that she was considered guilty unless she proved herself innocent."

The Air Force also denied allegations of a cover up.

"All the relevant facts will be placed before a judge or court-martial pane for decision at the public trial scheduled to begin Sept. 24," the Air Force said.


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  • Aries82 Aug 11, 2007

    The miltary has long gone to coed living. The last time I saw a female barracks only was when I first came to FT Bragg in the early 70's. During field excercises or combat operations, we have shared the same large or medium size tent. We just haven't gotten to the part of sharing the same shower stalls.

  • Aries82 Aug 11, 2007

    I have been stationed all over the world, and have seen the young enlisted females learn about the military life. The military is full of people that are "users". They learn the hard way that you can't trust anyone. I hope the truth does come out at the courtsmartial.

  • findoutthefacts Aug 10, 2007

    I believe military personnel are not supposed to drink on non-sanctioned areas and especially underage (story says she's 20). Also, are co-eds allowed to hang out in the opposite sex's rooms?

    Sounds to me like she broke these rules and also engaged in sexual contact and then tried to pull the "rape" card to try to get out of it.

  • haggis basher Aug 10, 2007

    "Let the military handle it. As usual, ignorant civilians assume they know how the military works. If you didn't serve, then your opinion is worthless."

    Some really bad things have happened in the past because of that attitude. The Military has in the past not performed as it should have.
    This sort of thing is why the Military did not want Women or Gays. Like it or not now they have to move with the times and learn to deal with this stuff properly. Its not easy and made harder if false accusations are made as well.

  • bill0 Aug 10, 2007

    They are charging her with drinking? Has anyone ever met a soldier in any branch who didn't have the occasional drink? Maybe there is one out there, but I haven't met them.

    Indecent contact? I must have missed the part where we decided to go with the all virgin airforce.

    These sound like some seriously trumped up charges to me. If we tossed out every soldier who drank or had sex, we wouldn't have much of a military left.

  • CestLaVie Aug 10, 2007

    Airman First Class is the third stripe obtained after enlistment. All at this level are called airman, regardless of sexual gender.

    She decided not to press charges, so the AF is?? It does sound fishy. Wonder if she decided she made a BIG mistake in the first place - maybe that is her "stress".

  • JerryO Aug 10, 2007

    Actually, they mentioned her rank as Airman First Class, so, in this context, the term airman is being used in a generic form, similar to soldier, marine, sailor. The enlisted grades have changed since I was in the AF. Back then airman was not a rank, but now it is. We were all called airman, if you were below the rank of Sergeant.

  • JerryO Aug 10, 2007

    Yes Airman is a rank, similar to private , corporal etc. This sounds a lot like Chrystal Mangum. Anyone remember her?

  • USN Vet Aug 10, 2007

    Let the military handle it. As usual, ignorant civilians assume they know how the military works. If you didn't serve, then your opinion is worthless.

  • JustBeachy Aug 10, 2007

    An "airman" is a rank of mostly newbies in the airforce. Its the first rank you get when you go in before you start getting seargent and so on.