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West Point Cadet's Court-Martial Starts

3D rendering of gavel, law scales and books on a wooden table
3D rendering of gavel, law scales and books on a wooden table

WEST POINT -- A member of the West Point class of 2019 is defending himself against charges that he sexually assaulted a female classmate during cadet field training last summer.

The court-martial of cadet Jacob Whisenhunt began Monday at West Point and is scheduled to continue through the week until its conclusion.

A panel of six Army officers -- five men and one woman -- will decide his fate.

Whisenhunt was charged with three violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

He pleaded not guilty to the charges. If convicted, he faces a maximum punishment of dismissal from the Army, forfeiture of all pay and benefits, and confinement.

Defense lawyers said they intend to show any sexual contact between the two was consensual.

His accuser, also a member of the class of 2019, testified the assault happened at the end of a long, hard, hot day of field training at West Point's Camp Buckner, where the cadets in training slept outdoors.

The female cadet said Whisenhunt invited her to sleep near him on the night of July 8, 2016.

She said she awoke during the night to find "someone was really close to me, his body was against mine." And, she said, he was touching her genitals.

"I just froze," she said. "I didn't know what to do ... I really wanted to move. In my head I was screaming. But my body wouldn't move. I was like a deer in the headlights."

Whisenhunt subsequently had sexual intercourse with her, she said.

The female cadet was asked on cross-examination about handwritten and electronic journals in which she recorded the alleged assault.

Defense lawyers say they requested copies of both for months but were not shown anything until April 6, and suggested the documents were created after the fact to bolster her case.

But the female cadet insisted both were made shortly after the training exercise.

The defense also sought to show inconsistencies between the cadet's testimony and what she told Army investigators in July.

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