Is he a rapist or a pawn in a military game to discredit the Air Force Academy sex scandal? For the first time, Douglas Meester answers the charges.
Within minutes, Josh was in his sister's room. Within hours, he ushered her off campus to a hospital in nearby Colorado Springs, where she underwent a sexual-assault medical exam and met with agents from the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (OSI); Woods formally alleged that Meester had raped her while she was inebriated and "semi-conscious."
Within six months, OSI completed its investigation and the chief investigation officer (IO) produced a 21-page memorandum that summarized the facts of the case. The report, which along with supporting witness statements was obtained by 5280, listed reason on top of reason to dismiss Woods' claim that the intercourse had been rape. Among the evidence was a statement Woods herself had made to OSI agents that night at the hospital: "I know for a fact that he [Meester] probably thought what we were doing was consensual because I know that I was responding to what he was doing (i.e., If he would kiss me, I would kiss him back.)."
The IO's report was promptly sent to the interim head of the Air Force Academy, Brig. Gen. Johnny A. Weida. In the military justice system, it is up to the commanding officer of an accused soldier to decide whether allegations merit prosecution. Although commanding officers almost always ratify an IO's recommendation, in this case Weida rejected the advice and ordered that Meester stand trial.
A preliminary hearing in the court-martial of Douglas Meester is scheduled for March, with the trial set to start in May. Twenty-year-old Meester will be the first Air Force cadet ever prosecuted for cadet-on-cadet rape; he faces a possible sentence of life in prison. At trial, Meester will insist that he and Woods got drunk and had consensual sex. He will insist that he is a pawn in a show trial staged by Air Force brass who do not want to accept responsibility for covering up decades of sexual assault and misogyny at the prestigious military institution. And he may be right.