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Alleged Air Force Rape Victim Won't Face Court Martial

Posted September 14, 2007

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— An Air Force enlisted woman who claimed to be the victim of a rape at Pope Air Force Base will not face a court-martial for offenses stemming from the case, the military announced.

Airman First Class Cassandra Hernandez had been scheduled to face a court-martial on Sept. 24 for charges of underage drinking and committing indecent acts.

Instead, 43rd Airlift Wing Commander Col. Timothy Zadalis administered nonjudicial punishment for the underage drinking charge. He also decided nonjudicial punishment was inappropriate for the indecent acts allegation and handled that charge through administrative action, a Pope spokesperson said.

Hernandez may appeal the rulings and submit information in response to the administrative action, officers said. She will remain in the Air Force.

"The actions taken are meant to be rehabilitative," Capt. Beverly G. Mock said in a press release. "The Air Force and the 43rd Airlift Wing Commander expect that Airman Hernandez will successfully continue to serve the Air Force and the nation."

The charges stemmed from events at a party on May 13, 2006. Hernandez reported to military officials that she was gang-raped by three other airmen at the party.

The Air Force charged Airman Russell J. Basile but dropped the case when Hernandez refused to testify. Later, Hernandez said she felt pressured by the Air Force judicial process and intimidated by Basile’s defense attorney, an Air Force lawyer, who she said interviewed her without her victim’s advocate present.

In February, Lt. Col. David Knight, the commander of Hernandez's unit, the 43rd Operations Support Squadron, signed papers charging Hernandez with committing an indecent act by having sexual relations with Airman 1st Class Jerrell W. Apache while Basile and Airman Rotez J. Butler Butler watched. She was also charged with underage drinking.

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  • Betty Girlie Sep 14, 2007

    Everyone -

    PLEASE read the prior articles and get the full story before jumping to conclusions!
    Yes, she said she was raped, but when asked to testify, she refused. Without her testimony, there was not enough evidence against all three men to go to court martial. They were all offered Articles 15 and accepted them. They, including Airman Hernandez, were all charged with indecent acts (having sex while others watch in this case) because she refused to corroborate or testify to the rape allegation.
    She refused the Article 15 the result of which is a court martial. That's just the way the military justice system works. More and more evidence was piling up that did NOT back up her story of being raped; it backed up the story that she was a willing participant who later had regrets.
    I'm assuming she finally chose (and it HAD to be her choice, that's the way it works) to accept the Article 15 knowing that her chances of a conviction at court martial were pretty high.

    That's truth.

  • NotFromHere Sep 14, 2007

    Hey, sww1rb, maybe you should get your facts straight before you start lecturing.

  • mvnull Sep 14, 2007

    "I'd be willing to bet, however, that these guys will pay through unofficial means." You would lose that bet. The Air Force encourages the "bravado". They think it makes better fighter pilots.

  • Corvus Sep 14, 2007

    There is no Justice in the Military. It doesn't matter which branch. Unless, you are an officer, the Military can replace you with someone else. You are just antother piece of property, to them.

  • edits Sep 14, 2007

    I agree with RB but I do believe she should be punished for the underage drinking. That is not OK.

  • bill0 Sep 14, 2007

    johnsod27330 - you have the timeline all wrong. She was not caught having sex or drinking. She called the police and reported that she had been raped. At that point, no authorities knew of any drinking or sexual activity. She wasn't trying to get out of any punishment. When she made the claim, the men said she consented and actually initiated it. At that point, it was basically a he said -she said case. After getting grilled by investigators and lawyers, she said she just wanted it to be over and didn't want to testify. It could have ended there, but they decided to charge her.

  • johnsod27330 Sep 14, 2007

    If you have followed tis story you would find that the male airmen received Article 15's for indecent acts and if I am not mistaken underage drinking as well. She was going to be court martialed because she refused an article 15. Obviously, when confronted with the evidence against her she decided to accept the article 15. From the sounds of all this it sounds like she had sex with more than one airmen (which is a violation of UCMJ), when she was going to be punished for it she claimed rape, when it came time for the airmens court-martials she bailed, then she was charged when it became apparent that she was involved.

  • Adelinthe Sep 14, 2007

    "I agree with Fragment Four, if anyone should be charged they all should. Then again we are talking about government and they don't have to make sense. Sounds like sexual discrimination thing to me."

    AMEN!!!

    God bless.

    Rev. RB

  • Adelinthe Sep 14, 2007

    "In February, Knight signed papers charging Hernandez with committing an indecent act by having sexual relations with Airman 1st Class Jerrell W. Apache while Basile and Airman Rotez J. Butler Butler watched. She was also charged with underage drinking."

    So she gets charged with "indecent acts" yet the man she did it with got off Scot free?

    And the two who "watched" were certainly guilty of something.

    Praying for her.

    God bless.

    Rev. RB

  • Adelinthe Sep 14, 2007

    "...Hernandez said she felt pressured by the Air Force judicial process and intimidated by Basile’s defense attorney, an Air Force lawyer, who she said interviewed her without her victim’s advocate present."

    How's SHE the shady one?

    I KNOW the military. Women caught in the middle of something like this have little chance of receiving justice.

    God bless.

    Rev. RB

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