Air Force Rape Trial Ends With Letter of Admonition

June 4 2005, 9:43 PM

Air Force Cadet Benjamin Kuster has been acquitted of raping another cadet while she slept. His defense had been that he mistook the cadet for his fiance and stopped as soon as she spoke to him during the act and he realized his mistake.

An Air Force Academy cadet facing life imprisonment on a rape charge earlier this week, walked out of court a free man Friday, but one whose chosen career in the Air Force is now in doubt. Benjamin Kuster, 21, of Clinton, Iowa, was sentenced Friday to a written reprimand for his conviction on a charge of committing an indecent act.

The indecent act is that he had sex with his fiance, also a cadet, in view of other cadets. His fiance was not similarly charged. She graduated last year. Kuster's graduation is in doubt because the indecent act is considered a criminal conviction. In light of the acquittal on the rape charge, and the lack of similar treatment for his fiance, the indecent act conviction seems unjustified and mean-spirited. Kuster's lawyer will appeal. 5280's background on the trial is here.