A former military cadet who was sentenced to 21 years behind bars for allegedly raping a female classmate will be able to return to the U.S. Military Academy after his conviction was overturned two years later on Monday.
Cadet Jacob Whisenhunt, originally a member of the class of 2019 at the academy in West Point, N.Y., was dismissed from the Army and removed from the school after he was convicted of raping a female cadet while she slept in her sleeping bag during a summer field training event on July 7, 2016.
An appellate court threw out the conviction on Monday, citing a lack of evidence to prove the sex wasn’t consensual. A judge concluded the woman did not audibly struggle and Whisenhunt did not attempt to silence her, hide his identity or remove evidence.
“The defense theory was that the appellant and [the victim] engaged in a consensual sexual encounter while taking active measures to avoid detection,” the written decision by three military judges said, according to Military Times.
“In our view, the circumstantial evidence in support of this defense theory severely undercuts the government’s case.”
Whisenhunt can now be fully reinstated at West Point or can request his disenrollment. Because he was removed from school before completing two years at the university, he’s not required to serve in the military further or pay back his education.