Air Force Academy cadet faces court-martial in bathroom peeping incidents
By TOM ROEDER | The Gazette (Tribune News Service) | Published: January 11, 2018
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Tribune News Service) — A male Air Force Academy cadet accused of taking pictures of female classmates inside a women's restroom on the campus faces court-martial Thursday morning.
Freshman cadet Sammy Tawakkol is also charged with two counts of attempting to take illicit photos and a single count of violating a commander's order to stay away from women's restrooms.
He's headed for a "special court-martial" - a military court of limited jurisdiction that normally tries crimes that are the equivalent of misdemeanors in civilian courts.
While a full "general" court-martial could impose a maximum punishment of five years behind bars under a military law barring "indecent visual recording," the special court-martial cannot impose punishment, the academy said Wednesday.
"It must be emphasized that charges are merely accusations, and the accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty," the academy said Wednesday in a news release.
According to court papers, Tawakkol is suspected of recording women in academy restrooms during a two-month period that ended Dec. 13, 2016.
Tawakkol's alleged misdeeds came to light last March after he was arrested for allegedly videotaping women in a restroom at Texas A&M University. The cadet was there for a World Cube Association event.
The association for fans of the 1980s puzzle game released a statement saying the group's disciplinary committee "has decided to impose a complete ban on him attending WCA competitions until we have the results of the charges."
Tawakkol was held in the Teller County jail for three months after the Texas incident. He was released pending trial on June 30. He also faces charges in Texas in addition to the military court.
The academy emphasized last year that Tawakkol apparently didn't put the restroom pictures on the internet.
"Victims were not readily identifiable in the photos that were taken, and there is no evidence that any of these photos have been distributed beyond the cell phone of the individual who took them," Academy spokesman Lt. Col. Allen Herritage said.
Before entering the academy last year, Tawakkol was a noted Rubik's Cube competitor, able to solve the six-sided puzzle in 15 seconds or less.