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Female lieutenant denies affair affected Air Force job

August 4, 1997

BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. (AP) _ An Air Force lieutenant argued today at a public hearing that the military had no business judging her on personal letters she wrote to the married officer who fathered her child.

``That’s my private life, my personal correspondence,″ said Lt. Crista Davis, 28, of DeKalb, Ill. ``That was not for you. It did not affect my job. It’s my sex life.″

She denied wrongdoing and asked for leniency.

Ms. Davis, who is willing to leave the military, accepted an offer of non-judicial proceedings, rather than a court-martial, on charges resulting from the affair she had with her English instructor at the Air Force Academy.

Such hearings are usually private, but hers was open at her request, said Capt. Mark Phillips, spokesman for Barksdale Air Force Base. Ms. Davis, who is black, had accused the Air Force of prosecuting her to retaliate for racial and sexual discrimination complaints she filed against several generals. The Air Force has denied that repeatedly.

Lt. Gen. Phillip Ford, commander of the 8th Air Force, heard the case and gave no indication when he would rule.

Ford is the same commander who presided in the case of Lt. Kelly Flinn, the nation’s first female B-52 pilot who made national news fighting adultery charges.

The two women were Air Force Academy classmates. Ms. Davis was never charged with adultery, but originally faced 55 years in prison on various charges, including dereliction of duty, lying and disobeying an order.

Under the administrative proceedings, the maximum punishment is forfeiture of half pay for two months, restriction to base for 60 days, arrest in quarters for 30 days and a reprimand, said her attorney, Louis Font.

The charges against her included conduct unbecoming an officer for sending explicit letters about the affair to the wife of the Air Force major. Ms. Davis said she became involved with Maj. Greg Russell in 1995, two years after she graduated, and broke off the relationship in 1996, after she found out he was married.

He has acknowledged the baby is his. He was never charged with adultery, and earlier charges of financial wrongdoing he faced were dismissed.

Neil Talbott, spokesman for the Air Force Academy, said privacy laws forbade him to say why. But Russell said the charges were dropped because military psychiatrists decided he had been legally insane since 1992.

Russell, who had tattoos on both arms and wore a ring through his pierced tongue when off duty, was suspended from teaching at the academy in 1994. He and his wife have divorced.

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