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Air Force Academy Cadet Accused in Sex Assault Faced Other Charges

Prosecutors say an Air Force Academy cadet was facing charges in another sexual assault case when he allegedly crept into a sleeping classmate's dorm room and attempted to sexually assault her.

The new allegations were aired Monday during an evidence hearing for Cadet Mark Czerner, a junior from Virginia who is now on leave from the school. Czerner is charged with sexual assault, attempted sexual assault and conduct unbecoming an officer in the new case.

Czerner had been pulled out of his usual academy accommodations and moved into an "administrative flight" for troubled cadets when the new incidents took place, prosecutors say.

The woman involved was also living there and was later discharged for academic deficiencies, prosecutors said.

"She said Cadet Czerner made her feel uncomfortable multiple times," Office of Special Investigations agent Merida Hayes testified Monday. She did not name Czerner or point to him as the suspect during her testimony, leading Czerner's civilian attorney, John Carr, to ask for the case to be dismissed.

"There has been no identification of the accused today," he told hearing officer Maj. Terry Coulter.

Hayes was the sole witness called in a morning hearing that featured several objections by Carr, who practices military law in West Virginia.

"We don't believe this case should be referred at all, and certainly not to a general court-martial," he said.

During Monday's hearing, Czerner said little, but frequently cleared his throat and made odd sounds. Attorneys for the cadet say he suffers from a transient tic disorder that leads to the noise.

Most of what Coulter will consider before rendering his opinion is documentary evidence, including police reports. Coulter will issue a recommendation on what should be done with the new charges against Czerner, which prosecutors want added to a planned October trial in Czerner's earlier case.

Czerner was charged in June 2015 with the alleged Valentine's Day sexual assault of a female classmate in a car on the campus. Czerner's lawyers have argued the incident was consensual. A conviction in that case could bring a life sentence.

Shortly after charges in that case were filed, prosecutors say, Czerner went after a female cadet in the "administrative flight" dorm rooms.

"He came into her room without knocking, touched her bare leg and climbed into bed with her," said prosecutor Capt. Josh Tolin.

The new case was brought to light in Facebook conversations, prosecutors said, leading to an investigation that began in May. The new charges against Czerner were issued last month.

Czerner's hearing was one of two high-profile Pikes Peak region Air Force cases that had been set for court Monday.

A Peterson Air Force Base spokesman said the start of a court-martial for Col. Eugene Marcus Caughey was postponed.

Caughey, former vice commander of Schriever Air Force Base's 50th Space Wing, faces charges including sexual assault, six counts of adultery, and assault.

A new date for Caughey's trail was not available Monday.

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