Cadet sentenced to written reprimand for indecent act | SummitDaily.com
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Cadet sentenced to written reprimand for indecent act

DENVER ” An Air Force Academy cadet was given a written reprimand Friday for committing an indecent act, one day after being acquitted of raping a fellow cadet during a club field trip to New Mexico last year.

Senior Benjamin Kuster of Iowa had been accused of sexually assaulting the woman, now an Air Force second lieutenant, after a night of heavy drinking in a motel room in May 2004.

The alleged victim testified she awoke to Kuster having intercourse with her. The woman said she recognized him because they had kissed earlier in the evening, along with his girlfriend, while other cadets watched.

Defense attorneys said the woman made up the allegations to cover up her own misconduct on the trip.

A military jury found Kuster not guilty Thursday during a court-martial at the academy, but convicted him of committing an indecent act for having consensual sex with his girlfriend in a room where other cadets were asleep.

He faced five years in prison and dismissal from the Air Force for the conviction, but received the reprimand instead.

Kuster’s attorney, Richard Stevens, tried to get the indecency charge dismissed Friday, but the judge denied the motion.

The case must be reviewed by academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. John Rosa, who can choose to agree with the jury, reduce the sentence or set aside the findings.

Stevens said he didn’t know when Rosa’s decision would come. Kuster’s future, including whether he will graduate from the academy, is unclear until then, Stevens said.

“He’s relieved based on what he was facing, but his future still is uncertain. So we now have to tackle those issues,” Stevens said.

Prosecutors in the case declined to comment.

Kuster’s case comes as the school tries to put a 2003 scandal behind it in which dozens of female cadets complained of being ignored or punished for reporting sexual assaults. The allegations cost top commanders their jobs and led to an overhaul of policies and certain programs.

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On the Net: http://www.usafa.af.mil


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