Female bomber pilot trial on hold
Air Force reviews resignation request
May 20, 1997
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Air Force said it expected a decision later Tuesday on whether pre-trial motions can continue in the court-martial of Lt. Kelly Flinn, the Air Force's first female bomber pilot.
The court-martial in Minot, North Dakota, was "automatically put on hold" by the filing of a request by Flinn's lawyers that she be allowed to resign, according to an Air Force spokesman.
Flinn wants to be allowed to resign with an honorable discharge instead of facing trial on charges of adultery, disobedience and lying to investigators.
"The trial is automatically delayed by the filing of a request for resignation in lieu of court-martial and can only proceed with the authorization of the Air Force Judge Advocate General," said Brig. Gen. Ron Sconyers at the Pentagon.
Sconyers says it was expected the Air Force would make a decision "by the end of the day" on the request from Air Force prosecutors to proceed with the trial.
If permission to proceed is given, lawyers for Flinn will still be able to seek a delay until June 2 to give the Air Force time to consider Flinn's offer to resign, if she can get an honorable discharge.
Pentagon sources say Air Force Secretary Sheila Widnall, "has no intention of granting an honorable discharge." Widnall's decision could be announced by the end of the week.
The 26-year-old Flinn, who is single, faces trial on charges of having an affair with a civilian man married to an Air Force enlisted woman. She also is charged with having a brief relationship with an enlisted man. Both affairs, which violate military rules, took place in the past year.
The Air Force has stressed that other acts of Flinn's, such as disobeying an order to end the affair and lying to investigators, are the most egregious offenses.
Flinn has received support from some members of the public. She has appeared repeatedly on television, arguing that even though she did take part in the affairs and did lie to investigators, the proposed punishments far outweigh her crimes.
Flinn said she thought her married lover was legally separated from his wife and had filed for divorce. She has admitted that she initially lied about the affair, afraid that the truth would end her dream of flying.
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