Academy Holding Back, Ex-Cadet Says

By Erin Emery
Denver Post
October 28, 2000

Colorado Springs - A former Air Force Academy cadet who last year said she had an inappropriate sexual relationship with a Catholic priest says the academy has violated the Freedom of Information Act for failing to turn over documents about the case.

On Nov. 8, Susan Archibald told academy officials that she had a sexual relationship with the Rev. Pat Nicholson while she was an 18-year-old freshman cadet in 1984. Archibald had gone to the priest for counseling and the relationship quickly turned sexual, she said. She turned over love letters and told investigators that the sexual relationship had resumed again in the summer of 1999.

Nicholson, a lieutenant colonel, was not court-martialed. Had he been, the proceedings would have been public. The statute of limitations had expired on the 1984 relationship, but not the 1999 one.

In August, the academy said Nicholson had been 'separated' from the Air Force on July 18. The academy has not revealed what kind of discharge the priest received nor details about the investigation, saying that information is protected under the Privacy Act.

Capt. John Elolf, a spokesman for the academy, said Col. Charles Lucy, the staff judge advocate, would be the person to answer questions about the information act. He was not available Friday.

'I asked for documents pertinent to my case. They have not responded in any way, even to say that I can't have them. It seems that integrity and honor don't seem to exist when it concerns me and this case,' Archibald said. 'If there is nothing behind this, as the academy seems to have indicated, then why not just issue an immediate response to the FOI request?'

On Sept. 4, Archibald sent a resignation letter to the Air Force stating she wanted to leave the reserves. She has not heard whether that resignation has been accepted.

Archibald's attorney, Robert 'Ric' Cusick, sent a letter Aug. 17 to the academy requesting documents under the Freedom of Information Act. That law requires that the academy respond within 20 days.

'Nobody has come back to me with any response,' said Cusick, who sent a follow-up letter on Monday, noting that more than 60 days had passed.

Cusick said Friday that a lawsuit is 'being considered.'

Cusick and Archibald do not know where Nicholson is or whether he is still a priest.

A June 16 letter from the Archdiocese for the Military Services indicates that Nicholson asked that his 'endorsement' to the Air Force chaplaincy be withdrawn, indicating he no longer is associated with the Air Force.


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