Rape Charge Dismissed Against Academy Cadet

Air Force Academy Cadet Douglas Meester pleaded guilty in June 2004 to committing an indecent act and was fined $2,000 and reprimanded.

This event marked the end of a two-year military court ordeal in which Meester was charged with having sex with a female cadet after the two drank heavily in his dorm room on October 18, 2002.

The woman, who had consumed large amounts of alcohol that night, said that she was too drunk to consent to sex, and Meester's blood alcohol level would also have been extremely high that night. The woman accused Meester of rape within a few days of the incident.

Meester received a written reprimand after pleading guilty to conduct unbecoming an officer, dereliction of duty and committing an indecent act. If Meester had been convicted of rape, he could have been sentenced to life in prison.

The accuser, a 20-year-old Pennsylvania woman who was 18 at the time of the incident, agreed to drop rape charges and said that she did not want to testify because it would cause her further anxiety.

In a statement to the court, Meester said, "What happened that night will follow me for the rest of my life. I will be forced to explain the events of that night everywhere I go. ... The mere allegation of rape is enough for some people to ostracize and condemn me."

As with many of the alleged rape cases at the Academy, this one was fraught with gray areas. The woman admitted that on the evening of the alleged attack, she had been in Meester's room drinking at least six tequila shots, bringing her blood-alcohol level to an estimated 0.192 percent. She also admitted participating in "body shots," in which drinkers lick part of another person's body, sprinkle the moistened area with salt, drink a shot of liquor and lick the salt from the person's body.

The woman maintained that, "I believe I did not consent to any sex act with cadet Meester. I did not even know him." Meester's father said he had seen an email sent by the woman to his son the morning after the event, telling him what a good time she had had with him the night before.

Meester admitted to drinking 17 shots of alcohol that night, and apologized for his actions. He said he was considering leaving the academy, had been on alcohol probation, and willingly broke the rules by drinking in the dorms, providing alcohol to minors and having sex while his roommate was asleep in the next bed.

In his statement he said, "While what happened that night was a horrible judgment on everyone's part, at no time did anyone do something against their will or without their consent."

In 2003, an Article 32 hearing to decide whether the woman's allegations should go forth in a court martial resulted in the investigating officer ruling that the charges did not warrant further attention. But Brig. Gen. John Weida, then acting superintendent, overruled the decision.

Meester's father told this reporter, "They were 18 and 19 at the time: they had too much to drink and they had sex. Was she cognizant enough to make a good decision? No--and neither was my son. But she had gone to an all-girl Catholic school, and here she was doing body shots. My son called me the morning after it happened and said, 'We were drinking and a girl spent the night. We're both gonna get kicked out.' And the next thing he knew, he was being accused of rape. I can say with certainty that the accusations against my son were not legitimate rape allegations. However, the commanders at the academy insisted on prosecuting this inspite of the Article 32 hearing that found lack of evidence to go forward. This has become a political event. they are looking for fall guys."