Local News

Air Force Stands by Decision to Court Martial Airman

Posted August 9, 2007 7:15 p.m. EDT
Updated August 9, 2007 9:23 p.m. EDT

— 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.