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Judge Rules Sodomy Charge Doesn’t Violate ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

August 14, 1996

SAN ANTONIO (AP) _ A military judge ruled that a court martial can proceed against an Air Force major accused of having a lesbian affair.

The sodomy charge against Maj. Debra L. Meeks, 41, does not violate the military’s ``don’t ask, don’t tell″ policy on homosexuality, the judge, Lt. Col. Mary M. Boone, ruled Tuesday.

Defense lawyers criticized the ruling, saying it is rare for an Air Force officer to be tried on a sodomy charge that stems from allegations involving the private lives of consenting adults.

``We are asking you to determine and deter bad sex-police conduct, because that’s what you’ve got,″ lawyer Peter Held told the judge. ``You’ve got a sex patrol out there running around.″

Testimony was to begin today before a five-man, two-woman military jury at Lackland Air Force Base.

Under the ``don’t ask, don’t tell″ rule implemented in 1994, gays are permitted to serve in the military as long as they do not have sex with service members and keep their sexual orientation and conduct private.

Meeks, who denies the allegations and has never disclosed her sexual orientation, is accused of having sex with Pamela Dillard, a civilian, during a two-year affair. Dillard told the military about the alleged affair.

Meeks also is accused of conduct unbecoming an officer, a charge stemming from Dillard’s 1994 allegation that the major threatened her with a gun.

Michael Tigar, another lawyer representing Meeks, said Dillard was ``delusional.″

If convicted of both charges, Meeks faces up to eight years in a military prison, discharge from the Air Force and loss of retirement benefits.

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