SAN ANTONIO – The military on Friday dismissed a rape charge against an Air Force Academy graduate whose case was on hold because of a therapist's refusal to turn over the accuser's medical records.
Air Force Maj. Gen. Marc E. Rogers issued the dismissal against Capt. Joseph Harding, who had been accused of raping the woman at the Colorado academy in 2000. He maintains his innocence.
Rogers is the commander of 19th Air Force at Randolph Air Force Base near San Antonio, where the court proceedings were being held.
A military judge had halted Harding's court-martial in June 2005 because Jennifer Bier, the accuser's civilian therapist, would not hand over the documents. The court-martial reconvened this summer, but was again shelved after military judge Col. David Brash did not get Bier's records of her sessions with the accuser, as he had ordered.
Harding's attorney, David Sheldon, said Bier's actions and those of the accuser prevented the trial from moving forward and "did a disservice not only to Capt. Harding but also the administration of fair justice."
Wendy Murphy, attorney for the therapist and the accuser, said she was not surprised.
"They have been trying really hard to find a palatable justification to make the whole thing go away which won't cause them any political problems," she said of the Air Force.
Murphy said she hopes a civilian prosecutor in Colorado will take up the case.
Harding, now married, had been placed on administrative hold at a Mississippi base and was unable to finish his pilot training. It was not clear Friday whether the hold had been lifted. But Sheldon said he hoped Harding would be reinstated for pilot training.
The case grew out of the academy's 2003 assault scandal, which prompted several investigations and toppled the school's top commanders.