The latest sexual assault court-martial at the Air Force Academy hinges on a familiar question: whether the alleged victim consented to sexual acts.
Cadet Armis Sunday, a junior at the school, is charged with groping a classmate in her dorm room April 14, 2017.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys agree that Sunday and the woman had been drinking, when he allegedly slid down her sweatpants and tucked his hand in her panties.
But prosecutors say the woman was fast asleep when Sunday attacked. Defense attorneys say the act was an amorous if awkward moment for the two.
“All we ask is you keep an open mind,” defense attorney Maj. Ross Brennan told the military jury of seven men and one woman.
“Hold him accountable for what he did to this girl,” prosecutor Capt. Wade Iverson told the jurors. “Hold him accountable for sexually assaulting this girl.”
The woman had been drinking in her room when Sunday offered to drop by with more alcohol. Academy regulations don’t permit booze in the dorms.
The two were friends who had met in a computer science class and saw each other at events around the school.
Their relationship changed in the dorm room that night, says Sunday’s defense team, two military officers and Colorado Springs civilian counsel Ryan Coward.
Brennan said the two kissed, and things proceeded from there.
Iverson said the evening was alcohol-fueled, but the friendship was platonic. He said the woman expected Sunday to leave when she went to sleep. She called friends after he left and complained about his behavior. Within hours, she went to a Colorado Springs hospital, where a forensic nurse checked her for signs of sexual assault. She decided to pursue criminal charges.
As she did so, a key piece of evidence emerged. Iverson said Sunday fired off a text to the woman, apologizing for the incident.
“Dude I (vulgarity in past tense) up,” prosecutors say Sunday wrote.
Brennan said the text was a statement of regret for a date gone wrong, not an apology for sexual assault.
The case against Sunday is expected to run through Friday. A guilty verdict in this case could land him behind bars for five years.