Air Force Cadet Says He's Innocent of Rape

An Air Force Academy (search) cadet said he was innocent of raping a female classmate after they drank shots of tequila in his dorm room.

"I am not a rapist. I am not a perfect cadet, perfect student or perfect person, but I am not a rapist," Douglas Meester said Wednesday at a hearing to determine whether he will face a court-martial.

Military officials will decide by next week whether to hold courts-martial for Meester and another male cadet accused of sexual assault against a female cadet. They are the first cadets to be charged with sex crimes since a scandal erupted at the academy earlier this year.

Meester is charged with rape, sodomy, indecent assault and providing alcohol to minors in an Oct. 18 incident with an 18-year-old cadet from Pennsylvania.

The woman testified at Wednesday's hearing that she had been drinking before she went to Meester's room, where she drank at least six shots of tequila with him and two other cadets.

After one cadet left and the other went to sleep, Meester began kissing her and taking off her clothes, she testified. She said she awoke as he raped her, and that she drifted in and out of consciousness.

She acknowledged that she did not physically resist but said she had not agreed to have sex.

"There was no way to fight him off. I did not feel like I was in control," she testified.

The woman was to be disciplined for fraternizing with older cadets and drinking but left the academy before she was punished. She has applied for disenrollment.

In an earlier statement to Air Force officials, the woman had said she believed that Meester thought what they were doing was consensual. On the stand Wednesday, she said she was referring only to the kissing.

The cadet testified that she reported the alleged attack the next day.

Defense counsel Capt. Kathleen Reder suggested the woman reported the incident because she was worried her boyfriend, also a cadet, would be angry with her for having sex and that her reputation would be tarnished.

Reder said she would ask for a change of venue if a court-martial is ordered. "Cadet Meester will be tried as scapegoat" if the case stays at the academy, she said.

Meester did not formally testify Wednesday but was allowed to make a statement without being sworn in.

In the other case, Cadet Jason Lewis was charged with sexual assault for allegedly forcing a female cadet to fondle him. Air Force officials held a hearing last week but have not announced whether Lewis will face a court-martial.

The academy outside Colorado Springs (search) has been under scrutiny for months since dozens of female cadets said they were reprimanded or ostracized when they reported being raped. The school's top officers have been reassigned, and the Air Force and Defense Department (search) are investigating.

In the past 10 years, two Air Force cadets have been charged with rape. One was acquitted; the other pleaded guilty and was sentenced to seven months in jail. Administrative action was taken in other cases where there was not enough evidence to prosecute, officials say.