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NORAD, Northern Command colonel faces court-martial in alleged sex-assaults

May 9, 2018 Updated: May 11, 2018 at 6:11 am
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Col. Jason Costell was in command of a squadron in Florida at the time of this 2012 Air Force photo. (AIR FORCE PHOTO)

A colonel with the North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command in Colorado Springs is facing court-martial on sexual assault charges in a case that spans five years of alleged misconduct.

Air Force Col. Jason Costello, an F-22 Raptor pilot and intelligence analyst, is charged with raping a sleeping woman and two other charges. The assault counts include an alleged 2013 incident with Costello hitting a woman in the face and a 2017 assault that alleges he violently grabbed a woman's arm and wrist.

Ahead of a planned October trial, Costello is serving in a training billet at the Northern Command and NORAD headquarters at Peterson Air Force base.

"As we do in all situations regarding adverse actions against any employee or service member, the command has taken appropriate actions while balancing the rights of the individual," Northern Command spokesman Michael Kucharek said in an email. "Col. Jason Costello remains in an active-duty status, and while we are not permitted to discuss specifics, Col. Costello has been removed from all operational duties."

The most serious charge against Costello alleges that he raped a sleeping woman in 2014. Court papers say the incident took place in Rhode Island.

Another charge alleges he sexually assaulted a woman in 2012, but where the incident took place remains unclear in court papers, which say only that it took place in "the continental United States."

The third sexual assault charge alleges that he groped a woman over her clothing on several occasions. That charge is more vague than the others, saying the incidents took place between 2012 and 2014 in the lower-48.

The charges come with a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.

A 22-year veteran, Costello led a squadron of F-22s, the Air Force's top fighter, in Florida before his assignment at NORAD. Known by his call-sign "Bondo," Costello in 2007 was forced to eject from his F-15 at 26,000 feet over Alaska after a mid-air collision with another fighter. The other pilot landed safely.

Costello, a 1995 graduate of the Air Force Academy, was a key member of the Air Force's East Coast demonstration team, which put on public displays in fighter jets including the F-15 and F-22.

He's also served at Fort Carson, where he was assigned to the 13th Air Support Operations Squadron, an Air Force unit that coordinates support for soldiers on the ground.

Over his career, Costello has earned honors including the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Medal and the Aerial Achievement Medal. He's also earned the Army's Commendation medal for his time at Fort Carson.

At NORAD, Costello works in the office that plans training exercises. Those exercises in recent months have ranged from aerial interdiction training involving just a few planes to massive homeland security drills involving hundreds of troops along with local authorities.

Kucharek said Costello "has been in that assignment since July 16, 2016, and is currently working projects as directed by his chain of command."

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Contact Tom Roeder: 636-0240

Twitter: @xroederx

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