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European edition, Wednesday, May 23, 2007

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany — A Spangdahlem-based airman was sentenced Monday to four months confinement for her part in a sexual act with two other airmen.

Airman 1st Class Ashley N. Rains pleaded guilty at a court-martial to two indecent acts charges.

She had faced rape and sodomy charges but admitted to the lesser charges as part of a plea deal.

Judge (Col.) Gordon Hammock also sentenced Rains, 22, an aircrew life support specialist with the 22nd Fighter Squadron, to reduction to the lowest pay grade.

She faced a maximum sentence that included as many as 10 years in a military prison, but Air Force prosecutors argued for a lighter sentence of two years.

The alcohol-induced menage a trois on Sept. 24 in Bitburg included a male airman and a female staff sergeant.

But both prosecution and defense lawyers debated whether it was consensual among the three.

Rains and Airman Christopher D. Hicks are the only airmen charged in the incident because the Air Force lawyers said the staff sergeant was too drunk to give consent.

Air Force prosecutor Capt. Mike Felsen said the staff sergeant “appeared drunk” and slipped “in and out of consciousness” while Rains and Hicks performed sexual acts with her.

Felsen argued the staff sergeant, who did not testify during the trial, was vulnerable and Rains and Hicks took advantage of her.

But Rains’ defense attorney, Capt. Matthew King, called the incident a situation involving three consenting adults with “various degrees of intoxication.”

King argued that Rains shouldn’t go to jail for what amounts to a drunken threesome.

“Does she really have to go to jail for this?” he asked.

The Air Force had charged Rains with rape and sodomy, but prosecutors could not prove the more serious charges, King added, therefore, the question of consent isn’t relevant in Rains’ case.

Rains said she was embarrassed by the episode.

“I’ve learned from this mistake,” she said during a statement she read at the trial.

Hicks faces more serious charges.

The airman, who is assigned to the 52nd Civil Engineer Squadron, has been charged with rape and sodomy and will face a court-martial at Spangdahlem Air Base on May 30.

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