Senior Air Force Academy cadet acquitted of sexual assault
By TOM ROEDER | The Gazette (Tribune News Service) | Published: May 13, 2018
A senior Air Force Academy cadet was acquitted of sexual assault by a court-martial panel Saturday.
Senior cadet Samuel Kyle Fuller was charged with a single count of sexual assault after a 2017 incident at a dorm room at the school. Witnesses testified that Fuller had intercourse with a drunken female classmate in her Vandenberg Hall room after the two had been drinking at Hap's, an on-campus bar for cadets over 21.
Witnesses testified they found Fuller in the woman's room with his pants down.
Fuller's defense focused on whether the female cadet had consented to sex. The trial was complicated by the woman's lack of recall.
Fuller's team, which included civilian defense attorney Patrick McLain of Dallas, maintained that the woman's lack of recall wasn't enough to prove that she didn't consent to sex.
"Finally, the truth came out," McLain said Saturday evening.
That seed of doubt was backed up by testimony from experts who questioned the woman's level of intoxication and whether her decision to pursue sexual assault charges was unduly influenced by her squadron commander and others.
McLain said another factor was how the Air Force Office of Special Investigations dealt with Fuller. McClain maintains that agents coerced him into a near confession.
The Air Force denies that there was anything improper in the way Fuller was interrogated or treated.
The jury watched nearly 11 hours of videotape of Fuller's questioning by the agency.
The court-martial jury of seven men and two women had heard all evidence in the case by Friday and deliberated into Saturday before issuing the acquittal.
While Fuller was cleared on the felony charge, which could have brought prison time, it remains unclear what discipline could be issued for breaking academy rules. Regulations forbid having sex in the dorms.
An academy spokesman on Saturday said a decision on disciplinary action could come on Monday.
A senior at the school, Fuller had been scheduled to graduate May 23.
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