Army officer guilty of indecency

06:00, Mar 03 2009

A senior army officer will be sentenced today after being found guilty of indecently assaulting a female officer.

The lieutenant-colonel, whose name is suppressed, slumped into his chair and bowed his head for several minutes after the verdict was delivered at the end of a three- day court martial at Messines Army Centre in Trentham yesterday.

The female officer was involved in a training course on which the lieutenant-colonel was an instructor.

The woman said the pair had been drinking together at an officers' mess on the night of March 23, 2007.

She claimed the officer had gone to her room uninvited later and tried to force himself on her.

The five-member panel of fellow officers found the lieutenant- colonel not guilty on a second charge of behaving in a disgraceful and indecent manner.

The panel will reconvene today to hear sentencing submissions, details of the officer's 20-year career in the army and a character reference.

Indecent assault carries a maximum penalty of up to seven years in jail. The officer could also be demoted or dismissed from the army.

Lieutenant-colonels earn about $120,000 a year.

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The Dominion Post