Air Force F-22 Pilot Acquitted of Rape Charges, Found Guilty of Assault

Col. Jason Costello (Air Force Photo)
Col. Jason Costello (Air Force Photo)

An Air Force colonel who flies F-22 Raptors will serve 35 days' confinement after being found guilty of assault and battery, but was found not guilty on other charges including rape, service officials said this week.

Col. Jason W. Costello was accused of multiple sexual-assault offenses that allegedly took place between 2012 and 2014.

"Col. Costello was found guilty of one specification of Article 128, assault consummated by battery," Stephen Brady, a spokesman for the 21st Space Wing, said in a statement. "He was sentenced to a reprimand, forfeiture of $2,000 pay per month for six months, and 35 days' confinement, with four days of credit for pretrial confinement. He was found not guilty of the other four charges."

Air Force Times first reported the verdict March 12.

The Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado-based unit was the designated oversight authority for the court-martial.

Costello's charges included rape and sexual assault, as well as assault consummated by battery. According to charge sheets obtained by Military.com, he was accused of penetrating a woman while she was asleep in late 2014, non-consensual assault of a woman with intent to gratify himself in late 2012, and non-consensual sexual contact with a woman on various occasions between December 2012 and August 2014.

The counts of assault include allegations that he hit someone in the face in 2013, and that he grabbed an individual on the arm, wrist and hands in 2017.

It's not clear from the documents whether the allegations pertain to one individual or multiple alleged victims.

Richard Stevens, Costello's civilian attorney, told Military.com in a statement that all allegations were made by a single individual who is a civilian.

"With regard to that lone assault conviction, this stemmed from a tense confrontation in 2017 in which Col. Costello grabbed his truck keys from the complaining witness, and then, according to what that person admitted to the responding police officer, the complaining witness initiated a physical struggle with Col. Costello to get the keys back," Stevens said. "In that struggle, the individual punched Col. Costello in the face, and claimed that Col. Costello grabbed the person's arms.

"We hope the public record about this incident can now start to be corrected, and we hope all parties can start to move forward and past this case."

Costello, an Air Force Academy graduate, previously commanded the 325th Training Support Squadron out of Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida.

He has been assigned to the North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command Training and Exercises Directorate since 2016, officials previously said.

-- Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at hope.seck@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @HopeSeck.

-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at oriana.pawlyk@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214.

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