Cadet’s rape conviction reversal panned by victim advocates

The reversal of a West Point cadet’s rape conviction has outraged sexual assault victim advocates who say the decision is filled with victim-blaming and antiquated notions about rape.

But defense attorney William Cassara says the decision demonstrates the need for checks and balances on court martial panels hand-picked by commanders under pressure to convict in a time of intense focus on military sexual assault.

A three-judge Army appeals court panel on Monday ordered cadet Jacob Whisenhunt reinstated at the U.S. Military Academy. He had served two years of a 21-year sentence for raping a female classmate in her sleeping bag during field training in 2016.

The judges found it implausible that Whisenhunt could complete the offenses without cooperation or detection.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, of New York, said the decision sends a terrible message to sexual assault survivors.

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