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Tinker Airman convicted of sexual assault

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- A Tinker Airman was convicted in a general court-martial last week of having sex with another Airman who was unable to consent because of impairment by alcohol consumption.

A seven-member panel of officers convicted Senior Airman Casey A. Novian, 25, of the 552nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, of sexual assault on a person incapable of consent.

The panel settled on a sentence of nine months' confinement, reduction in grade to E-1, and forfeiture of all pay and allowances during his incarceration. In addition, wherever he lives he will have to register with the local law-enforcement agency as a sex offender.

The presiding judge, Lt. Col. Grant Kratz, informed the panel before they began deliberating the sentence that the maximum punishment they could impose was reduction in grade to E-1, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, imprisonment for up to 30 years, and a dishonorable discharge from the service.

The crime occurred in the early hours of Nov. 23, 2012, at Kadena Air Base, Japan. Airman Novian was a member of a maintenance crew that accompanied an AWACS crew during a presidential support mission.

Airman Novian was accused of sexually assaulting a female airman first class from the AWACS crew who was too drunk to agree to the liaison. Testimony established that the two Airmen had met just hours earlier.

During the weeklong trial, the victim testified that she had only one key card for the room in which she stayed while at Kadena AB; and that she awoke in the middle of the night to find Airman Novian on top of her, sexually assaulting her.

The accused testified that he went upstairs to her room to invite her to play spades, and that the sex was consensual.

Two Airmen who helped the victim to her room testified that she was too drunk to walk on her own and that she vomited several times during the evening.

Capt. Michael Phillipp of the 72nd Air Base Wing Judge Advocate's Office told the jurors that although the victim was "a drunk, helpless Airman," the accused "took what he wanted" from her. There was no "pre-existing relationship" between the victim and the accused, the prosecutor noted.

Captain Phillipp told the jury that Airman Novian lied under oath during the trial, giving false statements that were exposed by the senior trial counsel, Capt. Jacob Ramer.

Captain Phillipp also described Airman Novian as a "predator" who "deserves a dishonorable discharge. He earned it." The captain recommended that the jury impose a prison sentence of 12 to 15 years.

Capt. Anne Maxfield, defense co-counsel who assisted the senior defense counsel, Maj. Ja Rai Williams, urged the jury to view the defendant "as an entire person" and consider what he's done with his life, not "just one day a year ago..."

Airman Novian had a "terrible childhood," his younger brother died and his biological mother was indifferent to his needs as a child, the jury was told. While in high school the accused moved into the home of a friend.

Airman Novian received an Article 15 (non-judicial punishment) for drunken driving off-base in December 2011, but he worked hard to overcome that incident, Captain Maxfield said. Airman Novian, who enlisted in the Air Force seven years ago, has "high rehabilitation potential," she added.

Captain Maxfield pleaded with the jury that if they decided Airman Novian should be jailed, it should be for a period of "weeks or months, not years." She pointed to letters that colleagues and supervisors submitted to the court in Airman Novian's behalf, describing him as a good, reliable worker.

"He's one way at work and another way when no one's watching," Captain Phillipp asserted. Captain Maxfield responded that it was highly unlikely that Airman Novian's supervisors and co-workers would not know what he really is like, considering the amount of time they spent with him.