Wednesday, August 8, 2007
POPE AIR FORCE BASE, N.C., Aug. 7 -- A female airman says she faces a court-martial next month because she refused to testify against three male airmen she accused of rape.
The woman is charged with one count of committing indecent acts and one count of consuming alcohol as a minor. The defense says the charges involve the same men she accused of raping her.
The military will not confirm whether the men were charged, because the case is pending, base spokesman Ed Drohan said Tuesday.
"The whole thing is a system failure," said Capt. Christopher A. Eason, one of the woman's defense attorneys. "This is unprecedented."
In letters, dated June 7, to the congressional delegations and governors of North Carolina and her native Texas, the woman said she decided not to testify against the men because she was "under enormous stress."
The Associated Press generally does not identify possible victims of sexual assault.
She says she was attacked in another airman's barracks room on the night of May 12-13, 2006. The charges against her allege that she performed an indecent act on one of the men she accused while the other two watched, the defense says.
In her letter, the woman said she reported the attack and was given a medical examination. The three men were charged with rape, but the charges were dropped after she refused to testify, she said.
"The pressure of the judicial process was too much for me, and I felt like no one was looking out for my interests," the woman wrote.
The men received nonjudicial punishments and have been granted immunity for their testimony in the woman's trial, according to documents the defense provided.
"This is the wrong message to send to women in the military," said Capt. Omar S. Ashmawy, one of her defense attorneys.
Said Drohan: "The Air Force is not attempting to cover up any wrongdoing."
A court-martial has been scheduled for Sept. 24 at the air base, adjacent to Fort Bragg, Drohan said.