Air Force Drops Charges Against Officer Accused of Raping Cadet

The Air Force has dropped sexual assault charges against an officer accused of raping an Air Force Academy (search) cadet last year, but he still faces administrative punishment for less serious offenses, his lawyer said Friday.

"We're pleased that the commander followed the advice of the investigating officer. We believe this is a fair and just outcome," said lawyer Frank Spinner.

The charges against 2nd Lt. Ronen Segal (search) were dropped after the investigating officer said the woman had been capable of giving or withholding consent and "did not in any way object to or resist" Segal performing a sexual act on her earlier, the Air Force said Friday.

The woman — a freshman at the academy when Segal was a senior — testified last month that she went to his Colorado Springs home Aug. 25 after he sent her an e-mail asking to get together. She said she didn't remember what happened after they drank wine and began kissing, but that she was being raped when she came to.

The woman who accused Segal of rape could not immediately be reached for comment. A staffer at the academy switchboard said she was not at the school and declined to give her home phone number.

If Segal had been convicted of the criminal charges, he could have faced a life sentence and dismissal from the Air Force. He still faces discipline by the academy because he allegedly provided alcohol to the cadet, who was under age.

Segal has until Monday to decide whether to accept punishment for dereliction of duty and conduct unbecoming an officer, said base spokesman Sgt. Gino Mattorno.

Segal could choose to take the matter to a court-martial, Mattorno said. He did not know the possible punishment but said it would not include dismissal from the Air Force.

Segal, a 2002 Air Force Academy graduate assigned to the North American Aerospace Defense Command (search), was the second man associated with the academy to be charged with rape since February, when dozens of female cadets began coming forward to say they had been attacked.

In the other case, sophomore cadet Douglas Meester, 20, has asked to resign from the Air Force rather than face a court-martial on charges he raped a female cadet in his dorm room last October.

In Segal's case, the investigating officer, Army Col. William Sells Jr., recommended dropping the criminal charges, and Segal's commanding officer, Brig. Gen. Duane Deal of the 21st Space Wing (search), accepted the recommendation.