Facing as much as 30 years behind bars for sexual assault, an Air Force Academy cadet was sentenced to 75 days in jail Saturday.
The sentence, handed down by a jury of eight officers including seven men and one woman, will also see Armis Sunday, a junior, booted from the academy and forfeiting his pay.
Ryan Coward, the civilian attorney who led Sunday’s defense team, said evidence in the case, which included Sunday’s contention that the sexual act was consensual, led to the relatively light penalty.
“We believe that the light sentence reflects the nature of what was alleged, and we look forward to the appeal,” Coward wrote in an email to The Gazette.
Sunday was convicted of sexual assault on Friday for a 2017 incident in the academy dorms. A female cadet contended that Sunday groped her as she slept after an evening of drinking.
Prosecutors alleged that Sunday planned the encounter, bringing alcohol to the woman’s dorm room and lying about being locked out of his domicile by a roommate.
The trial ran four days in a courtroom in the school’s Harmon Hall.
The conviction kicked off a miniature trial where prosecutors and Sunday’s defense team argued over an appropriate sentence. Unlike civilian courts, where judges pass sentence based on guidelines that often include mandatory minimums, military courts let jurors rule, with wide discretion.
The military panel’s options ranged from a reprimand to the full 30 years.
He’ll likely serve his jail time in Teller County, which contracts with the Air Force to hold local military inmates. Conviction for sexual assault in a military court also comes with sex offender registration and puts a federal felony on Sunday’s record.
Sunday also escaped a second charge of sexual assault that was brought for a 2016 incident involving a female cadet.
Academy leaders chose not to pursue that case after an evidentiary hearing.