Local News

Alleged Air Force Rape Victim Won't Face Court Martial

Posted September 14, 2007 12:38 a.m. EDT
Updated September 14, 2007 1:09 p.m. EDT

— 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.