- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 5, 2003

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., March 5 (UPI) — Air Force investigators will return to Colorado next week after complaints that their investigation of alleged rapes at the Air Force Academy failed to include civilian rape counselors or enough victims.

Air Force officials refuse to say the return visit was sparked by complaints from Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo., who has pressed for an investigation of reports by 25 current and former women cadets that they were sexually assaulted.

"They're not doing a complete and thorough investigation," the senator said in Wednesday's edition of the Denver Post. "They have left stones unturned,"

Allard said it appears the Air Force investigation is going to require monitoring.

Since the attacks were first reported by KMGH-TV in Denver, 15 former and 10 current cadets have called Allard's office to report assaults and intimidation after they complained to academy officials. He said seven or eight other senators have received similar complaints from women since the story broke.

Lt. Col. Dewey Ford, spokesman for the Air Force investigators, said the team would return to Colorado but he declined to say it was because of Allard's complaints.

"Certainly we're aware of the senator's concerns," he said. "I don't want to say it's in response. We've always known we may need to get more information. We're continuing a process we've embarked upon."

Ford said the investigators interviewed "a couple" of victims last week before they departed Friday but he did not know if they were victims who called Allard's office. He said he was too early to say if they would attempt to interview more.

Dick Wadhams, an Allard spokesman, said only two of the 25 who have called the office have agreed to be interviewed but they haven't been interviewed by the investigators. He said some of the victims are concerned about privacy.

Allard was also critical of the investigators for failing to interview counselors at a Colorado Springs rape crisis center. Counselors revealed last week they have helped 22 women cadets over the past 15 years. They said the women contacted the civilian center because they feared going to academy officials with their reports.

Ford said the team met last week with academy volunteers who work in the Cadets Advocating Sexual Integrity and Education program, which provides support and answers a rape hotline at the academy.

The Air Force investigators are scheduled to make a report by the end of this month. The inspector general at the Department of Defense is also to conduct an independent investigation.

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