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The sign at the entrance of the Army’s Fort Carson near Colorado Springs.

A Fort Carson soldier was found guilty of sexual assault Thursday and sentenced Friday to four years confinement and dishonorable discharge from the Army.

Staff Sgt. Cory N. Penven, 32, was convicted during a court-martial by a panel of eight officers of raping a Fort Carson second lieutenant at his home in Fountain after a night of drinking and dancing with friends during October 2021.

The case hinged on whether the woman was capable of consenting — a point the prosecuting and defense attorneys hotly argued during closing statements Thursday. 

Maj. Alex Altimas recapped testimony detailing how the second lieutenant left a downtown Colorado Springs club stumbling and unable to get into Penven's truck by herself.  

The victim's mom and sister started searching for her when she did not come home and found her around 4 a.m. Oct. 17, 2021, at Penven's home. When she woke up, she was unable to walk or dress herself. 

"Her family had never seen her like that," Altimas said. 

The victim's level of intoxication clearly made her incapable of consenting, she said. 

The prosecuting attorney also acknowledged the "bad judgment call" the second lieutenant made by having a personal relationship with Penven, under the military's rule against disproportionally familiar personal relationships between officers and enlisted members.  

"She is willing to take whatever comes, for justice for her body," Altimas said. 

Defense Attorney Lance Wood argued it was impossible to know beyond a reasonable doubt whether a crime had occurred because intoxication does not prevent someone from consenting. He also noted the woman did not remember the night and could not say whether she had consented. 

He said the two had an ongoing friendship over several months and during that time Penven paid for everything and picked her up to go out. The two had also kissed on the dance floor and the woman kissed Penven in his truck, he said, recapping witness statements. 

"Alcohol can lead to primal instincts," he said. 

Earlier in the trial, the second lieutenant said she had never been romantically interested in Penven and sought out answers going to the hospital Oct. 18, 2021, for a sexual assault examination.

“I never thought I would be in that position because I was with someone I trusted,” she said during her testimony.

Contact the writer at mary.shinn@gazette.com or 719-429-9264.

Mary Shinn has worked at The Gazette since 2020 covering city hall, local politics and environmental issues. Previously, she worked for The Durango Herald from 2013 to 2020 covering city hall, education, environment and agriculture. In 2013, Shinn was a News 21 fellow and worked on an investigative series focused on veteran's issues. 

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