A cadet in his third year at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, has been accused of rape and was scheduled to face an Article 32 hearing Thursday to determine how his case should proceed.

Cadet 2nd Class Michael T. Crotts has been charged with one specification of allegedly violating Article 120 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which forbids sexual assault. According to the charge sheet provided by the academy, Crotts is accused of having sex with an unidentified woman, without her consent, at or near Colorado Springs between roughly March 1 and April 1, 2017.

The academy emphasized in a Wednesday release that “charges are merely accusations, and the accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty.”

An Article 32 hearing is similar to a civilian grand jury proceeding, the academy said. The hearing is held to review evidence and decide if probable cause exists to support the charge, and whether the case should continue.

The preliminary hearing officer, who presides over the hearing, will submit a report with recommendations to the academy’s commandant of cadets, who serves as the special court-martial convening authority. The commandant will then either decide to dismiss the case, recommend the academy superintendent refer the case to a general court-martial, or dispose of the case through other disciplinary or administrative action.

The superintendent acts as the general court-martial convening authority in these cases, the academy said.

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.

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