Reported sex assaults at Fort Carson rise sharply, Pentagon says

 

Two Fort Carson soldiers waived their rights to a preliminary hearing Monday to air evidence on charges they raped a Colorado Springs teenager.

Prosecutors allege Spc. Noel A. Acevedo-Mercado and Pfc. John C. Donathan met the 17-year-old girl at an October party in the woods off Lower Gold Camp Road and later attacked her in her bedroom. The girl said both men held her down during intercourse, police allege.

Dressed in Army combat uniforms, each of the soldiers said, "Yes, your honor," when asked if they wanted to pass on the hearing in 4th Judicial District Court. The hearing would have forced a judge to determine whether there's enough evidence to try Acevedo-Mercado and Donathan on a felony sexual assault charge.

Instead, they will have a disposition hearing June 1. That's frequently a sign that a plea agreement could be in play.

Judge David Prince told the soldiers, "I wish you luck in your negotiations."

Attorneys for Donathan and Acevedo-Mercado declined comment after the hearing.

The two were arrested in February after a police investigation into the events of the night of Oct. 4.

According to court documents, the girl told police the soldiers followed her home after the party in the woods broke up. The Gazette typically doesn't identify victims of sexual assault.

The girl told officers she consumed as much as half a bottle of whiskey at her house and wasn't feeling well when the soldiers offered to put her to bed. In her room, she told police, the soldiers held her down and took turns sexually assaulting her.

After the incident, the girl was examined at a hospital and reported what happened to police.

According to court papers, Donathan and Acevedo-Mercado admitted they had sex with the girl, but said it was consensual.

Army records show that Donathan and Acevedo-Mercado are assigned to Fort Carson's 3rd Battalion of the 29th Field Artillery Regiment. They earlier were freed on $50,000 bail.

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Contact Tom Roeder: 636-0240

Twitter: @xroederx

Senior Military Editor

Tom Roeder is the Gazette's senior military editor. In Colorado Springs since 2003, Tom covers seven military installations in Colorado, including five in the Pikes Peak region. His main job, though, is being dad to two great kids.

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