An Article 32 hearing for an Air Force Academy cadet charged with sexual assault is in its second day.
Cadet 2nd Class Stephan H. Claxton, a member of the class of 2013, is charged with abusive sexual conduct, underage drinking, wrongful sexual conduct and assault. He is one of the three cadets facing sexual misconduct charges in separate incidents. Read more about the charges here.
Thursday afternoon’s hearing began with testimony from a cadet who was with Claxton on the night of an alleged attempted assault in a dorm room on the AFA campus.
According to that first cadet’s testimony, the victim was very drunk, and they took her back to the Academy to take care of her. Back on campus, Claxton and the alleged victim were inside a dorm room alone, behind a locked door. When the other cadets got back into the room, they noticed the victim was partially disrobed. The cadets covered her and eventually told their squad leader.
In Claxton’s charge sheet, this incident is listed as attempted sexual contact with a woman who was substantially incapacitated.
In testimony later Thursday, one of Claxton's accusers described what she said happened between them in an AFA dorm. The cadet said she and two others went to Claxton's room and were drinking. That night she said she climbed into one of the cadet's beds, and when they were alone, Claxton got in the bed with her. She said he grabbed her hand and put it down his pants.
According to her testimony, she originally hesitated to report the incident because alcohol was involved. She later filed a restricted report, which is designed to give a victim more control over personal information that's released and their part in the investigative process.
She said the encounter came up again when the other reported sexual misconduct was under investigation.
It's unclear if any of the witnesses will face punishment for admitting to drinking during their testimony.
An Article 32 hearing is equivalent to a civilian grand jury proceeding. A follow up investigation will determine if Claxton will face a court martial. That process could take up to two months.
Two other cadets are currently waiting for Article 32 hearings linked to unrelated cases of reported sexual misconduct.
According to the AFA, it must be emphasized that each cadet is innocent until proven guilty.