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Court-martial set for Colorado AF major accused of sex crimes

A May court-martial date has been set for a 41-year-old Air Force Major who was charged with raping a woman at his home in Colorado Springs last summer and assaulting a woman last September, according to the 21st Space Wing at Peterson Air Force Base.

The accused Air Force Major is a 13-year veteran and was originally arrested by El Paso County sheriff's deputies last year and charged with sexual assault in the 4th Judicial District Court, but these charges were dropped by county prosecutors when the Air Force prosecutors filed their own rape charge. At that point, the case was handed off to the Air Force, a spokesperson for the 4th Judicial District Attorney's Office said.

Typically, the military's jurisdiction extends only to crimes committed on bases, or crimes involving someone currently wearing a military uniform. A panel of military officers will hear the case, make a ruling as to guilt and then order a sentence. The panels are allowed broad discretion in the sentencing, and there is no minimum sentence required by law.

As expected, military courts are operated somewhat different from those of the traditional justice system. One difference is that rape can carry the same penalty as murder in military courts, even as serious as capital punishment. However, this Major could face a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted.

The accused Major had been assigned to the headquarters of Air Force Space Command at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado. The Air Force Space Command currently plays a role in Internet warfare and controls the Air Force's many satellites.

The Major remains free from custody until his May court-martial date.

Resource: Gazette.com, "May court-martial set for AF major accused of rape, assault," Tom Roeder, 3/16/2011.

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