Air Force sex assault cases: Kyle Cressy cleared, Stephan Claxton recommended for court martial
In January, we told you about sex assault accusations against three Air Force cadets: Kyle Cressy, Stephan Claxton and Robert Evenson.
The results thus far: Cressy's charges have been dropped, Claxton was recommended for court martial and Evenson's hearing continues today amid controversy over testimony.
In the nine-plus years since the January 2003 publication of "The War Within," former Westword staffer Julie Jargon's feature about female cadets allegedly raped by schoolmates, the Academy has struggled against charges that its culture doesn't take such crimes seriously enough. In response, Academy reps have emphasized the institution's transparency in the wake of charges against the three cadets, releasing documents on view below related to their cases.
As we've reported, the Cressy incidents date to May 2011. The charges state that he penetrated a female cadet's vagina with his hand or finger, as well as his penis, while she was "substantially incapacitated."
Claxton, for his part, was charged with illicit acts in March and November of last year. In the first, he's said to have placed a cadet's hand on his penis while engaging in underage drinking. In the second, he is accused of striking a fellow cadet on the face with his fist and unbuttoning and unzipping her pants without her consent, as well as forcibly kissing and choking her.
And Evenson? He allegedly masturbated over a cadet and ejaculated on her stomach while holding her down sometime during the month of November 2010. Between March and July of that year, he's also suspected of forcing sex "using power or strength or restraint to her person sufficient that she could not avoid or escape the sexual conduct." In addition, in February 2010, the document contends that he helped a cadet in an Honor case "in return for a dating relationship and sexual favors, requiring her to violate her probation in return for helping her, and threatening to harm her military career if she did not comply."
The Cressy and Claxton hearings concluded with very different results, reports the Colorado Springs Gazette. Cressy's accuser said she passed out on his bed, then awoke to find a man touching and then having sex with her. She testified that she kissed him before blacking out and never said "no" -- and while she recalled trying to push his hands away, the mitigating evidence, combined with a two-day delay before she reported having been assaulted, appear to have been factors in Brigadier General Richard Clark's decision to drop the charges against him.
In contrast, Clark recommended that Claxton face court martial for his actions.
Meanwhile, the case against Evenson has gotten more complicated, as detailed in a separate Gazette account. According to the paper, the Academy instituted reporting changes in 2005 following the sex scandal that went public a couple of years earlier, with one form to be shared with investigators and another intended to remain confidential. As such, the woman stopped testifying midway through a February 27 hearing, and only shared additional details -- including the possibility that someone other than Evenson may have sexually assaulted her -- after being ordered to do so by the lieutenant colonel in charge at the session.
The Evenson hearing is expected to continue today, even as experts debate whether this apparent reporting conflict will make cadets less likely to report sexual abuse. Look below to read the charge sheets pertaining to Claxton, Cressy and Evenson.
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Read more of Julie Jargon's reporting in our "Inside the Air Force Academy" archive.