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Colo. Air Force Cadet Asks to Resign

July 15, 2003

AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AP) _ An Air Force Academy cadet facing court-martial on rape and sodomy charges has asked to be allowed to resign from the Air Force rather than stand trial.

Attorneys for sophomore Douglas Meester, 20, the first cadet to face court-martial for rape since a sexual assault scandal erupted at the academy earlier this year, submitted the request last week, the Colorado Springs Gazette reported in Tuesday editions.

Attorney Capt. Michael Freimann said his client hopes to be discharged from the Air Force under other-than-honorable conditions rather than face prison if convicted.

His request would have to be approved by Air Force Secretary James Roche, who allowed an academy graduate to resign from the Air Force in March, setting aside a conviction on sex charges.

Meester, who is on leave from the academy, is accused of raping a freshman cadet Oct. 18 in his dormitory room. Both he and the alleged victim had been drinking alcohol.

Meester could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted of rape, sodomy, indecent assault and conduct unbecoming an officer for providing alcohol to a minor.

Meester’s request puts the court-martial on hold until Roche makes a decision, which could take months, Freimann said.

Since Roche took office June 1, 2001, he has approved eight resignation requests from Air Force members facing courts-martial. Air Force records show that he approved 13 percent of requests made this year and 26 percent of those made last year. Previous secretaries have granted up to 58 percent of such resignation requests, records show.

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