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Florida airman
pleads not guilty to rape

Florida airman
pleads not guilty to rape

An Air Force officer accused of raping four men and attempting to rape two others pleaded not guilty Monday at the opening of his court-martial.

Capt. Devery L. Taylor, former chief of patient administration at Eglin Regional Hospital in Florida, is accused of drugging and raping or trying to rape the men, four of whom were in the military, after meeting them in bars in Pensacola and on Okaloosa Island.

Taylor faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole if convicted of all the charges against him: two counts of attempted sodomy, four counts of forcible sodomy, three counts of kidnapping, and one count of unlawful entry.

A military jury is scheduled to begin hearing testimony on Tuesday.

Prosecutors told Col. Thomas Cumbie, the military judge, that the victims described experiences similar to the effects of gamma hydroxybutyrate, or GHB, also known as the date-rape drug. Prosecutors said the men met Taylor at bars, had drinks, and then blacked out.

Taylor's civilian attorney, Martin Regan, said some of the men lied about consensual encounters with Taylor because they did not want to damage their military careers.

Four of the men were in the military when they met Taylor, and three still are, he said.

''Anybody on active duty is concerned about the impact that it would have on his military career,'' Regan said.

Military members who acknowledge homosexual conduct are subject to disciplinary action including discharge or court-martial.

Defense attorneys asked the judge to limit testimony about GHB, saying that its effects were similar to that of alcohol and that none of the victims had traces of the drug in their bodies. Cumbie has delayed a ruling on testimony about the drug until Tuesday. (AP)

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