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Air Force Academy sex assault reports won't be kept confidential

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published September 12, 2003

AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. - A top Air Force Academy commander said Thursday that cadets who report sexual assaults will no longer be given confidentiality, so that their claims can be more easily investigated.

Col. Debra Gray, the new vice commandant in charge of handling assault cases, said the change was necessary because the Air Force cannot risk having criminals in the ranks.

"We are different than a regular company," she said in an interview with the Associated Press, noting that officers make life-and-death decisions.

Air Force officials have said they didn't know how bad the problem was in part because reported assaults were kept under wraps. But victims' advocates and civilian investigators appointed by Congress say denying confidentiality will discourage victims from coming forward.

Texas Democrats take redistricting to court

LAREDO, Texas - Democrat state lawmakers told a federal appeals court panel Thursday that the Republicans in the Legislature have violated the Voting Rights Act with their push to redraw Texas' congressional districts.

The three-judge panel did not rule, but the judges made it clear that they were reluctant to step into a summerlong battle that included 11 Democratic senators fleeing Texas to thwart GOP redistricting efforts. The Democrats returned from their six-week exile this week.

Plane skids off carrier

WASHINGTON - About a dozen crew members on the USS George Washington were injured Thursday when a fighter jet skidded off the deck of the aircraft carrier off the Virginia coast, a Navy spokesman said.

An F/A-18 Hornet was landing on the carrier when its gear that catches an arresting cable broke off, Navy spokesman Mike Maus said. Flying debris injured the crew members, he said.

The plane skidded off the flight deck and into the Atlantic Ocean, but the pilot ejected and was recovered safely, Maus said. The three most seriously injured crew members were airlifted to shore.

Elsewhere ...

BILL OF RIGHTS GIVEN UP: A Connecticut antiques dealer has withdrawn his claim to what is believed to be North Carolina's original copy of the Bill of Rights and agreed Thursday to donate it to the state. The document, stolen from the state Capitol in 1865, is believed to be one of the 14 original copies of the Bill of Rights. The FBI recovered it in an undercover operation in Philadelphia this year.

CHARGES IN PRIEST'S DEATH: Inmate Joseph L. Druce has been charged with murder in the slaying of former priest John J. Geoghan, who was strangled and beaten in his prison cell last month. Geoghan, 68, was serving a nine- to 10-year sentence for groping a 10-year-old boy and was accused of molesting nearly 150 boys over three decades.

PENTAGON APPOINTMENT: Vice Adm. Timothy J. Keating, commander of naval forces in the Iraq war, has been nominated by President Bush to be director of the Joint Staff at the Pentagon. He replaces Lt. Gen. George W. Casey Jr., who assumed the post in January after Lt. Gen. John Abizaid left to become a deputy commander of U.S. Central Command in Tampa.


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