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Air Force colonel, facing court-martial for rape, found dead

Air Force Col. Eugene Marcus Caughey, formerly vice commander of the 50th Space Wing, was found dead at his Colorado Springs home Sunday, a few weeks before he was to be court-martialed on sexual-assault charges. In this 2014 photo, Caughey speaks at a ceremony at Schriever Air Force Base marking the anniversary of the attack on the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001.  (Christopher DeWitt/U.S. Air Force)

An Air Force colonel facing court-martial next month on multiple counts of sexual assault was found dead Sunday at his Colorado home in a reported suicide, according to the Air Force and local police officials.

Col. Eugene Marcus Caughey, formerly the vice commander of the 51st Space Wing at Schriever Air Force Base, had been charged with rape, assault, adultery and other crimes. His court-martial was scheduled to begin Oct. 17 in what would have been a rare instance of the military placing a senior officer on trial for sexual assault.

Officials at Peterson Air Force Base said Caughey, 46, was found dead at his off-base residence in Colorado Springs. Sgt. Tim Stankey, a spokesman for the Colorado Springs police, said officers responded to a reported suicide at Caughey’s home about 12:30 a.m. Sunday. He said an autopsy and a determination of the cause of death are pending, but added: “We are suspecting no foul play at this time.”

Caughey’s attorney, Ryan Coward, declined to comment on the circumstances surrounding the colonel’s death. “This is very unfortunate for an officer that served our nation honorably for over 20 years,” Coward said in an email. “His family is grieving and asks that folks respect their privacy during this tough time.”

According to charging documents filed by the Air Force in December, Caughey raped one woman as he held her against the wall and floor, groped women on two other occasions, and violated an order from a two-star general to stay away from another victim.

The married colonel also was charged with six counts of adultery — a crime in the military — for allegedly having consensual sex with four other women, according to the documents.

Caughey’s defense team generated headlines in June when they sought to toss out the adultery charges, arguing that the military’s prohibition on extramarital affairs discriminates against heterosexuals. Under military law, adultery is defined as sexual intercourse between a man and woman who are not married to each other. According to Caughey’s attorneys, the provision does not apply to same-sex couples.

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