Air Force Colonel Charged With Rape Found Dead in Home

Col. Eugene Caughey speaks at a 9/11 commemoration in 2014 at Schriever Air Force Base, Colo. Air Force photo
Col. Eugene Caughey speaks at a 9/11 commemoration in 2014 at Schriever Air Force Base, Colo. Air Force photo

The former vice commander of the 50th Space Wing at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, who was awaiting court-martial on allegations of rape and adultery, was found dead Sunday at his home.

Col. Eugene Caughey, 46, assigned to Air Force Space Command staff at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, was to begin his court-martial Oct. 17 on charges of rape, assault, adultery and other lewd acts dating back to 2013.

The Colorado Springs Police Department is investigating the cause of his death, the Air Force said in a statement.

Sgt. Tim Stankey, a police department spokesman, told on Monday police were dispatched to investigate an apparent suicide. Stankey said police "do not suspect foul play at this time" but added that investigators will look to the coroner's office for the official cause of death.

The coroner's office said it could be four to six weeks before the findings of an autopsy are released.

Caughey's court-martial originally was set for August, but he was granted a continuance.

The 23-year veteran of the service was formally charged Dec.10 with rape and assault. He allegedly used "unlawful force" to hold the victim "against the wall and floor" while committing a sexual act sometime "in late 2014 or early 2015," according to his charge sheet.

The colonel also took photos of his genitals while in uniform, and committed six counts of adultery dating back to 2013, the documents say.

In June, Caughey's lawyers argued at preliminary hearings that the adultery charges should be removed because the Uniform Code of Military Justice is biased toward heterosexuals.

Maj. Keith Meister argued before Air Force judge Col. Wes Moore on behalf of Caughey that the UCMJ is outdated because it defines adultery to be between a man and a woman, and there are now same-sex couples serving in the military who wouldn't be subject to the same rules, the Colorado Springs Gazette reported at the time.

The prosecutors countered that there are other penalties same-sex spouses would be subject to, under Article 134 of the UCMJ.

Caughey could have faced up to 12 years in prison just for the six charges linked to adultery, the Gazette reported.

His civilian attorney, Ryan Coward, said Caughey was looking forward to his day in court and had been participating in his defense.

"I think this surprised everybody," Coward said, adding that his client had served honorably for 20 years. "This is just a very tragic event that occurred for him and his family."

Caughey's family had no comment, Coward said.

Caughey joined the Air Force in 1993. He said he survived the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attack on the Pentagon, according to a story on the Schriever AFB website.

"I was a captain inside the Pentagon that morning when a plane crashed into the west side of the building," Caughey wrote.

-- The Associated Press contributed to this story.

-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214.

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