Travis Burns

Maj. Travis Burns, a pilot with the 58th Special Operations Wing, gives an overview of the controls of the CV-22 in this Aug. 5, 2016, photo.


A special operations pilot at the Air Force Academy accused of multiple counts of sexual assault has been found not guilty.

A military judge found Maj. Travis Burns not guilty on Monday of all charges, including rape, rape of a child and sexual abuse of a child, the academy said Wednesday. 

The court martial began Aug. 10. Burns had requested trial by a military judge.

"This case is a prime example of the dangers associated with custody battles and the extent divorced parents may go to obtain full custody," said Burns' lawyer, Andrew Cherkasky, in a statement to The Gazette.

The child's stepfather obtained a false allegation against Burns from the child "in order to allow him to adopt the child so he could be sealed to the child in a Mormon church," Cherkasky said.

"Maj. Burns hopes this is the end of a two-year nightmare and that the family courts will act quickly to reunite the child with Maj. Burns and his family," he said.

Burns, a pilot who previously was assigned to the service’s secretive special operations command, had been charged with five counts alleging sexual acts involving a woman and a girl.

The charges, issued in April 2019, alleged acts dating back as far as 2013 and as recent as April 2018.

The Gazette does not name alleged victims of sexual assault.

During a May 2019 hearing, military prosecutors contended the victims gave consistent accounts of Burns’ acts and other evidence linked him to the alleged crimes.

An attorney for Burns had said police in Colorado Springs investigated the alleged sexual assault upon a child and declined to seek charges.

Most courts martial include a military jury, which can convict by a two-thirds vote. Defendants also can opt to be tried solely by a judge.

Rape convictions in the military can carry a life term, but military juries have wide discretion at sentencing and no mandatory minimum penalties.

Gazette military reporter and editor Tom Roeder contributed to this report.

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