Cadet Sentenced For Having Sex With 13-Year-Old

AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AP) - A senior Air Force Academy cadet from Ohio who admitted having sex with a 13-year-old girl at a summer sports camp has been sentenced to two months in jail and dismissed from the military.

Cadet Robert Ryan Burdge, 22, pleaded guilty at a court-martial to consensual sodomy with a minor and impeding an Air Force investigation. He was taken to the El Paso County Criminal Justice Center after his sentencing on Tuesday.

Burdge, a National Merit Scholar from Hopedale, Ohio, told jurors he thought the girl was 16 or 17. He met her at a weeklong sports camp the Air Force Academy hosts every year.

Burdge said he went to the girl's dormitory on June 21, which was off-limits to men, and escorted her back to his room. There, he kissed her and received oral sex, an act the military considers sodomy.

"I did not do anything she did not want me to do," Burdge said.

He sobbed as he apologized for the events.

"When my attorney told me she was 13, I felt disgusted. I was horrified at what I had done."

The girl never reported the incident. It came to the academy's attention in October while investigators were looking into another case.

When they confronted Burdge, he told authorities he had gone to the girl's room to arrange a meeting between her and another camper.

In a phone conversation set up and taped by investigators and played at the court-martial Tuesday, Burdge encouraged the girl to lie to authorities.

"I know this is awkward ...," Burdge told the girl, "but can you just please stick to that story. You have to make them believe you. ... They could throw me out of school and send me to jail."

A jury of five lieutenant colonels, a major and a captain deliberated 1 hour and 40 minutes before deciding on the punishment.

Burdge was dismissed from the Air Force and forfeited all pay and allowances. He likely will have to repay the government an estimated $120,000 for his education. He likely will have to register as a sex offender in states with those requirements.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)