UPDATE: This story has been updated with a statement from Costello’s attorney.
Col. Jason Costello, of the North American Aerospace Defense Command-Northern Command headquarters at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado, has been convicted of assault, but was acquitted of all other charges, including allegations of sexual assault.
Costello’s court-martial at Peterson concluded Sunday, 21st Space Wing spokesman Stephen Brady said in a Tuesday email. He was found guilty of one specification of a violation of Article 128 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice — assault consummated by battery, Brady said. He was found not guilty of another assault charge, and three sexual assault charges, Brady said.
According to the charge sheet, Costello was accused of having sex with an unidentified woman while she was asleep in Rhode Island between late October and December 2014. He was also accused of digitally penetrating an unidentified woman at some time between September and November 2012 without her consent, and was accused of touching an unidentified woman’s breasts and genitals over her clothes, without her consent, on more than one occasion between December 2012 and August 2014.
He was found not guilty of all those charges.
Costello was sentenced to 35 days confinement, with four days of credit for pretrial confinement, as well as a total pay forfeiture of $12,000, spread out over six months, Brady said. He will also receive a reprimand.
Brady said the court-martial panel decided a punitive discharge would not be appropriate in this case.
The court-martial panel found that Costello unlawfully grabbed an unidentified person’s arm, Brady said. The other assault charge, for which he was acquitted, alleged that he had struck an unidentified person in the face with his hand.
In a statement, Costello’s attorney Richard Stevens said they are grateful the court members acquitted Costello of all but one assault claim. Stevens said all allegations were made by one person, who was a civilian.
“With regard to that lone assault conviction, this stemmed from a tense confrontation in 2017 in which Col. Costello grabbed his truck keys from the complaining witness, and then, according to what that person admitted to the responding police officer, the complaining witness initiated a physical struggle with Col. Costello to get the keys back,” Stevens said. “In that struggle, the individual punched Col. Costello in the face, and claimed that Col. Costello grabbed the person’s arms. We hope the public record about this incident can now start to be corrected, and we hope all parties can start to move forward and past this case.”
Costello was previously assigned to NORTHCOM’s operations directorate, but since last July, has been assigned to the NORAD and NORTHCOM training and exercises directorate. He previously served as commander of the 325th Training Support Squadron at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida, and has also served as an F-22 instructor.
Stephen Losey is the air warfare reporter for Defense News. He previously covered leadership and personnel issues at Air Force Times, and the Pentagon, special operations and air warfare at Military.com. He has traveled to the Middle East to cover U.S. Air Force operations.