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Air Force Academy Probes Assault Claims

July 22, 2003

AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AP) _ Air Force Academy officials said Tuesday that two male cadets are under investigation after allegations of two sexual assaults were reported over the weekend. No details were released.

``The cases are under investigation. It would be inappropriate to comment,″ academy spokesman John VanWinkle said. ``We will investigate any and all misbehavior.″

The academy’s Office of Special Investigations got involved in the cases immediately, complying with a new mandate that sexual assault reports be routed to investigators and commanders.

The change was one of several made after the academy was plunged into a sexual assault scandal earlier this year. Dozens of female cadets said they were assaulted by male cadets and many said they were punished for minor infractions after they reported the attacks.

The Defense Department and an independent panel established by Congress are still investigating the scandal. An Air Force investigation found that many reports of sexual assault never made it to commanders or prosecutors.

Two men associated with the academy have been charged with rape since the scandal broke.

In one of the cases, an investigating officer is expected to determine by Friday whether 2nd Lt. Ronen Segal, a 2002 academy graduate posted at nearby Cheyenne Mountain, should face a court-martial on allegations he raped a cadet at his Colorado Springs home last August.

In the other, sophomore cadet Douglas Meester, 20, has asked to resign from the Air Force rather than face a court-martial on charges he raped a female cadet in his dorm room last October.

The academy’s new freshman class _ about 1,300 cadets including more than 200 women _ arrived last month.


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