Warrant Issued for Air Force Academy Rape Counselor

An arrest warrant has been issued for a rape counselor who refused to turn over records of her sessions with a former Air Force Academy (search) cadet, one of the women whose allegations touched off a scandal that toppled the academy's top leaders.

Jennifer Bier (search) is fighting a subpoena in the court-martial of airman Joseph Harding (search), who is accused of sexually assaulting two women at the academy in 1999 and 2000. His attorneys say their client's right to a fair trial overrides the alleged victim's right to privacy.

Bier said Saturday she was shocked and angry that she was being forced to chose between betraying her client's trust and being arrested.

"It's my position as a therapist that you can't betray your client," she said. "For me to betray a client renders my whole field null and void and I refuse to do that."

Bier's attorney, Wendy Murphy (search), said she planned to seek an emergency order Tuesday in federal court to prevent Bier's arrest, but she was not sure if the court would accept the case.

Bier "did the right thing that is ethically and legally demanded of her," said Murphy, who teaches at the New England School of Law (search) in Boston.

Officials at Randolph Air Force Base did not return phone calls seeking comment left by The Associated Press on Saturday.

Bier, who is a civilian, has indicated she is prepared to go to jail to protect the privacy of a former cadet who said she was raped by a cadet commander in 2000 and sought counseling.

The woman was among dozens who said they were ignored or punished when they reported sexual assaults to academy officials. The scandal that erupted in 2003 prompted several investigations, the ouster of the school's four top commanders and new policies.

The troubles, however, have not disappeared. A separate court-martial was under way Saturday at the academy for a senior cadet accused of raping another cadet after a night of heavy drinking while on a scuba diving trip to New Mexico.

Witnesses testified at a preliminary hearing in November that senior cadet Benjamin Kuster (search) said he was drunk and may have mistaken the woman for his girlfriend. Kuster, his girlfriend and other cadets were sleeping in the same motel room.

An Air Force second lieutenant testified Saturday that she slept by side on the floor with Kuster and Kuster's girlfriend. The alleged victim said she awoke to find Kuster on top of her. She was scheduled to continue testimony Monday.

Defense attorney Richard Stevens argued that the woman reported the rape to avoid punishment for her own misconduct during the trip.

If convicted, Kuster could face up to life in prison and dismissal from the Air Force. The woman has graduated and is a commissioned Air Force officer.