Air Force Being 'Vindictive' in Prosecuting Major, Defense Says
Aug. 13, 1996
SAN ANTONIO (AP) _ The Air Force's prosecution of a major accused of having a lesbian affair is ``selective and vindictive'' and should be dismissed, the woman's lawyers argued.
The sodomy charge against Maj. Debra L. Meeks also violates the military's ``don't ask, don't tell'' policy on homosexuality, defense attorney Peter Held argued Monday as the officer's court-martial convened at Lackland Air Force Base.
The policy allows homosexuals to serve in the military as long as they do not have sex with service members and keep their sexual orientation and conduct private.
Because Ms. Meeks, 41, denies having the affair and has never disclosed her sexual orientation, her lawyers argue that prosecuting her violates the 1993 policy.
The judge, Lt. Col. Mary M. Boone, did not rule on the defense request to dismiss the sodomy charge. The court martial is scheduled to continue today.
Ms. Meeks, who wore her blue Air Force uniform and said little during proceedings Monday, faces up to eight years in jail, the loss of retirement benefits and discharge from the Air Force if convicted of having a sexual relationship with civilian Pamela Dillard.
She is also accused of conduct unbecoming an officer for allegedly threatening Ms. Dillard with a gun in 1994.
The military dropped an investigation of the gun charge in 1995 without filing charges against Ms. Meeks. But after Ms. Dillard claimed the two were lovers, the investigation was reopened and expanded to include a probe of alleged homosexual conduct.
Prosecutors say Ms. Meeks violated Article 125 of the Uniform Code of Military Conduct, stating that anyone who has ``unnatural carnal copulation with another person of the same or opposite sex'' is guilty of sodomy.
Defense lawyers questioned whether Ms. Meeks would be charged with sodomy if the alleged misconduct involved heterosexual activity and asked that prosecutors produce statistics on the number of heterosexual sodomy prosecutions.
``We want to see if the government goes into the bedroom,'' Held said, noting that oral sex between a husband and wife could be considered sodomy under the military law.
Prosecutors said there have been five cases of consensual heterosexual sodomy prosecuted at Lackland since 1994. All resulted in convictions.
Meeks' attorney Michael Tigar also asked the judge to appoint a psychiatric expert to evaluate Ms. Dillard, who he called ``delusional'' and acting out a ``dependency fantasy.'' The judge did not immediately rule.