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Airman Who Alleges She Was Raped Faces Court-Martial For Indecent Acts

Cassandra Hernandez is an airman with the United States Air Force. She is stationed at Pope Air Force Base in Fayetteville, North Carolina. She attended high school in her home state of Texas, where she proudly participated in the ROTC program.

Currently Hernandez is awaiting a court-martial that is scheduled for next month. She is charged with one count of committing indecent acts and one count of consuming alcohol as a minor. Her criminal defense attorneys say that if Hernandez is convicted of these charges she will face up to a year in jail, a reduction of rank, a pay cut and a possible bad conduct discharge. She also could be required to register as a sex offender.

This whole nightmare for Hernandez began in the early morning hours of May 13, 2006. She admits that she was drinking at a party at the Pope Air Force Base. At the party, and in another airman’s barracks, Hernandez claims she was attacked and raped by three men who are also airmen in the United States Air Force and stationed at Pope Air Force Base. She says she fled the room while only partially clothed.

After the alleged assaults, Hernandez reported the incident and was taken to the hospital for a medical examination and treatment. She also received therapy and counseling but still suffered from considerable stress.

She says she received phone calls late at night and was tearful all of the time after the incident. When an Air Force defense attorney harshly interrogated her about the incident without a victim’s advocate present, it all became too much for her and she decided that she could not testify against the three men she accused of raping her.

She thought that would be the end of the matter and she could begin the emotional healing process.

As it turns out, that was just the beginning of the ordeal. Six months after the party and alleged rapes, the Air Force decided to charge Hernandez and the three alleged rapists with indecent acts.

To add insult to injury, they offered the three men who allegedly raped Hernandez immunity in exchange for their testimony against her. The Air Force says that the three men received non-judicial punishments.

Hernandez has two Air Force attorneys and is attempting to fight the charge of “committing indecent acts”. They have found difficulty in obtaining all of the evidence and information needed to defend her because they do not work at the Pope Air Force Base.

Hernandez has written letters to Congress, Governor Mike Easley of North Carolina and Governor Rick Perry of her home state of Texas, and hopes that they will help her. She says that if she had any idea that she would be treated this way, she never would have reported the assaults. She feels as though she is being victimized again and that the process is almost as painful as the rapes were.

She fears that other women who are victims of rape will not come forward if they see her case as an example of how they will be treated.

The Public Affairs division of the Air Force has said that it fully investigated Hernandez’s claims of sexual assault, and could not find enough evidence to support her claims.


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