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Air Force Academy cadet charged with Valentine's Day rape on campus

October 23, 2015 Updated: October 23, 2015 at 4:20 am
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photo - Cadet Mark R. Czerner, a junior, will face a preliminary hearing next week to determine if there's sufficient evidence to court-martial him on two counts of sexual assault and a single count of wrongful sexual contact, the academy said Thursday. (Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette)
Cadet Mark R. Czerner, a junior, will face a preliminary hearing next week to determine if there's sufficient evidence to court-martial him on two counts of sexual assault and a single count of wrongful sexual contact, the academy said Thursday. (Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette) 

An Air Force Academy cadet has been charged with a Valentine's Day rape on the campus, court papers show.

Cadet Mark R. Czerner, a junior, will face a preliminary hearing next week to determine if there is sufficient evidence to court-martial him on two counts of sexual assault and one count of wrongful sexual contact, the academy said Thursday.

Court papers allege Czerner, an honor student, groped a woman before having sex without her consent Feb. 14. Czerner was charged with the attack in August, but the charges weren't acknowledged publicly until Thursday's news release.

The charges against Czerner come as a Boulder County rape trial continues for another cadet, Daniel Ryerson. Ryerson is being tried by civilian authorities for allegedly raping a fellow cadet at a Boulder hotel in 2014. In that case, prosecutors have argued that Ryerson kidnapped and raped an incapacitated female cadet after a night of drinking. Defense attorneys for Ryerson have argued that act was consensual.

Few details are available in the Czerner case. Academy officials didn't divulge the exact location of the attack or whether the victim has Air Force ties.

A court-martial conviction for rape brings a maximum penalty of life in prison, but lesser punishments are far more common.

At a preliminary hearing Monday, prosecutors will present evidence to a hearing officer, who will issue a written opinion on whether Czerner should face trial.

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Contact Tom Roeder: 636-0240

Twitter: @xroederx

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