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Academy major accused of rape, molestation faces Article 32 hearing

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The Air Force Academy on Monday held an Article 32 hearing for a major accused of raping an adult woman and sexually assaulting a young girl.

Burns works for the commandant of cadets at the academy. Meade Warthen, a spokesman for the academy, said Burns is now performing administrative duties there.

According to a charge sheet released by the academy, Burns is accused of raping a woman at or near Clovis, New Mexico, on or about Dec. 21, 2013.

He is also accused of sexually assaulting and repeatedly molesting a girl who was under the age of 12 in 2017 and 2018, the charge sheet said.

The academy said in a Thursday release that the Article 32 hearing, which is similar to a civilian grand jury proceeding, is meant to decide whether probable cause exists to support the charge and its specifications.

The preliminary hearing officer will submit a report and recommendations to the academy’s commandant of cadets, who serves as the special court-martial convening authority. The commandant will decide whether to dismiss the case, recommend to the academy’s superintendent that the case be referred to a general court-martial, or to resolve the case through other disciplinary or administrative action.

“It must be emphasized that charges are merely accusations, and the accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty,” the release said.

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