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Spangdahlem-based Air Force pilot convicted of rape

An Air Force fighter pilot was convicted of rape last week, nine years after he committed the crime against a young airman.

Lt. Col. Michael J. Briggs, an F-16 pilot who was the 52nd Fighter Wing chief of safety at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, was convicted on Aug. 7, according to Air Force officials, after a weeklong court-martial before a military judge.

The judge sentenced Briggs, 40, to five months in jail, dismissal from the Air Force and a reprimand.

The rape occurred in 2005 while Briggs was on a temporary duty assignment at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, officials said.

“This was a violent rape that left (the victim) bleeding and bruised,” said an Air Force official, who declined to be identified because he was not authorized to discuss the case.

The victim informed her supervisor at the time, but the supervisor suggested she and Briggs “work things out” without involving law enforcement, the official said. The woman also confided in a couple of friends. No official report was filed.

Last year, the woman, by now a staff sergeant, decided to report her rape again after she attended an Air Force sexual assault briefing, the official said.

“This was a case of us having a program in place, and her feeling empowered,” said Capt. Bryon McGarry, a Spangdahlem spokesman.

The staff sergeant contacted Air Force criminal investigations. Investigators taped a phone call she made to Briggs, discussing the long-ago event, according to the official familiar with the case.

“I’m sorry I raped you and will always be sorry that I raped you,” he told her, according to the Air Force official.

At his trial, however, Briggs testified that the sex had been consensual, McGarry said, admitting only to adultery.

Briggs, a Texas native, had served 18 years in the Air Force, McGarry said. He arrived at Spangdahlem a year ago.

Before that, he was stationed in the Pacific. In 2008, while stationed at Misawa Air Base, he served as an F-16 demonstration pilot, performing aerial stunts for audiences at a dozen shows a year.

montgomery.nancy@stripes.com

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