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Aviator Cleared in Tailhook Case

<i> Associated Press</i>

The Navy dropped its criminal case Monday against an aviator who was the first officer scheduled to face court-martial for the Tailhook sex scandal.

Lt. Cole V. Cowden was to face court-martial Wednesday at the Norfolk Naval Base on a charge of conduct unbecoming an officer. The charge was based on a photograph taken at the 1991 Tailhook Assn. convention in Las Vegas that showed Cowden’s face pressed against a woman’s breast.

Dozens of women have said they were assaulted by aviators during the convention, with some saying they were fondled and stripped of clothing. Vice Adm. J. Paul Reason cleared Cowden “of all criminal misconduct” after a second review of his case, said Lt. Cmdr. Jeff Good, Cowden’s attorney.

“It’s kind of bittersweet,” said Cowden, 32. “This should have never happened in the first place. I’m glad to have survived a hysterical reaction that’s lasted two years.”

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