Three Airmen Face Court Martial Following Alleged Rape of Fourth Airman

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How does intoxication factor into a sexual assault court martial? 

According to recent reports from the U.S. Air Force, three Airmen First Class are set for court martial on November 9, 2015 following allegations of the gang rape of a fourth airman while she was intoxicated. Allegedly, the four were partying on the evening of May 30, 2014 in the vicinity of the Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. The defendants – one of whom was under the age of 21 – are also believed to have been engaging in illicit drug use involving commonly-abused prescription medications. During the time span in question, it is alleged that all three defendants engaged in non-consensual sexual intercourse with the victim while she was highly intoxicated.

For any specific-intent crime, the prosecution must prove the requisite mental intent to commit the offense, along with the other required elements listed in the penal code. Under the military penal code, rape is defined as follows:

A) Any person subject to this chapter who commits a sexual act upon another person by—

  • using unlawful force against that other person;
  • using force causing or likely to cause death or grievous bodily harm to any person;
  • threatening or placing that other person in fear that any person will be subjected to death, grievous bodily harm, or kidnapping;
  • first rendering that other person unconscious; or
  • administering to that other person by force or threat of force, or without the knowledge or consent of that person, a drug, intoxicant, or other similar substance and thereby substantially impairing the ability of that other person to appraise or control conduct; is guilty of rape and shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.

Here, while the facts suggest that the offenders may have been heavily under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol at the time of the attack, the language of the penal code does not make mention of any sort of requisite mental intent for the commission of this type of crime, meaning an intoxication defense will not be available to these defendants. While the released details do not specify precisely which of the above factors was in play at the time of the incident, it is possible that the victim was unknowingly administered intoxicants, or was otherwise the victim of unlawful force or threats prior to the incident.

If you are a member of the United States military and are facing sexual assault, rape or similar charges, please contact the experienced court martial attorneys at Aviso Law LLC right away by calling (719)247-3111 for an initial consultation. 

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