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AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy — A staff sergeant assigned to the 31st Civil Engineering Squadron received a six-year sentence Friday after being found guilty of three specifications of indecent assault.

Staff Sgt. Duane M. Forehand also was found guilty of four specifications of housebreaking and one of peeping by a six-officer military jury.

The charges involved incidents at Aviano and Osan Air Base in South Korea from 2002 to 2005. According to evidence presented in the court-martial, Forehand entered the dorm rooms of young male servicemembers on three occasions and touched their legs or genitals. Each servicemember had been drinking and was sleeping during the early morning.

Forehand, whose 14-year Air Force career ends with the conviction, served as a dorm manager — and thus had access to all dorm rooms on base — during the last incident.

Forehand took the stand during the trial, which began Monday, and denied all charges against him. He also disputed the facts of a 2001 lewd conduct conviction against him in California while he was assigned to the Defense Finance Accounting Service at San Bernardino.

Three victims testified in court or on previously recorded videotape that Forehand is the one who assaulted them. A fourth witness who was allegedly assaulted in an incident similar to the others couldn’t identify his assailant, and the jury found Forehand not guilty of the two specifications involving that case. Stars and Stripes does not identify the victims of sexual assault.

Capt. Adrian Brown, one of two prosecutors, said in her closing arguments that it wasn’t just the word of the accused against a single victim.

“In order for you to find the accused not guilty, you would have had to not believe eight witnesses who identified the accused,” she said. “Eight.”

Among the eight were another dorm manager, security police officers and the victims. She said in order to believe Forehand’s explanations of the incidents, he would have to be “the most unlucky man in the world. The government believes that is unreasonable.”

The only one of the three incidents in which Forehand admitted to being in the servicemember’s room was in November 2002 in Osan. He testified that he had met a young woman named Lisa in a club earlier and thought he was entering her room and touching her when he was actually in another male airman’s room.

Brown attacked that testimony on several fronts. A former security forces officer at Osan said he could find no one meeting the description of such a woman at Osan. And Brown said a small flashlight that Forehand left in the room when he fled after his victim woke up would have allowed him to realize his mistake.

The other three incidents, including one where Forehand was said to have watched an airman in the shower before assaulting him in the same room a week later, occurred at Aviano in 2004 and 2005.

In addition to the confinement, Forehand was also reduced in rank to E-1, given a bad-conduct discharge and will receive a formal reprimand. He had faced a maximum sentence of more than 35 years confinement.

Kent has filled numerous roles at Stars and Stripes including: copy editor, news editor, desk editor, reporter/photographer, web editor and overseas sports editor. Based at Aviano Air Base, Italy, he’s been TDY to countries such as Afghanistan Iraq, Kosovo and Bosnia. Born in California, he’s a 1988 graduate of Humboldt State University and has been a journalist for almost 38 years.
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