Airman pleads not guilty in alleged rape

Zepplin  Ray Taylor McGinness

DOVER — A Dover Air Force Base airman entered not guilty pleas following his arrest Monday in connection with the alleged rape of a 14-year-old girl, court documents indicate.

The airman, Zepplin Ray Taylor McGinness, 21, also admitted to having sex with the teen at his Dover Country Club Apartments residence four or five times in the past two months, according to an arrest adavit filed by Dover Police,

An interview was held Nov. 30, 2017, with a U.S. Air Force special agent after the airman was read his Article 31 Uniform Code of Military Justice rights, police said in papers.

The airman and juvenile apparently met and communicated on the online meeting site Tinder, according to charging documents.

“Zepplin Ray Taylor McGinness specifically stated that the intercourse occurred in his bedroom and on his bed,” a Dover Police detective wrote.
“He advised that the (14-year-old girl) visits his apartment regularly.”

In papers, the girl was described as a runaway from Dover who had been located at the airman’s apartment at 11 Greenway Square twice. The time of the alleged offense was listed between No. 11 and Nov. 14, 2017, documents stated.

Mr. McGinness was arrested without incident. The juvenile was returned to a guardian, authorities said.

On Friday, Dover Air Force Base leadership confirmed awareness of the four counts of second-degree rape without consent and endangering the welfare of a child (harboring a runaway).

“We are cooperating with local law enforcement agencies to ensure the investigation is completed fully,” a statement read.

“Airman 1st Class Zepplin Taylor McGinness is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. However, we take all allegations seriously as sexual assault is a crime which violates our core values …”

DAFB referred charge-related questions to the Dover Police Department and Delaware Attorney General’s office.

“Currently, this is an open investigation and the jurisdiction lies with the Dover Police Department,” the statement continued.

“To protect the integrity of the investigation, only the Dover Police Department or the Delaware Attorney General’s office may release specific information about the case.”

A DAFB spokesman said Mr. McGinness is an active duty aircraft maintainer assigned to the 436th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. He has been at DAFB since October 2014.

Mr. McGinness was held at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center near Smyrna after initially failing to post $100,500 secured bond Thursday. A preliminary hearing was scheduled for Friday in the Kent County Court of Common Pleas.

The airman remained on active duty status as of Friday afternoon, DAFB said.

Other DAFB cases

The Associated Press reported Thursday that the arrest came as a former airman who also was stationed at Dover awaits sentencing for sexual abuse of another teenage runaway.

Dalian Washington, who is to be sentenced Feb. 21, faces at least 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to child sex trafficking.

Washington and another airman, Akeem Beazer, were arrested last April after a young teen, who officials say had a troubled home life and often lived on the street, told a social worker that she had stayed on the military base and had sex with service members.

Beazer was sentenced last month to 30 months in prison after pleading guilty to sexual abuse of a minor.

In October 2018, an airman stationed at DAFB was sentenced federally to five years of prison followed by 10 years of supervised release for having allegedly collected more than 10,000 images and 3,000 videos of children engaging in sexually explicit conduct, including but not limited to sexual intercourse, according to the United States Attorney District of Delaware.

Of the 162 identified victims, federal authorities said 16 came forward seeking restitution. The U.S. District Court awarded $48,000 in total restitution, for the known victims.

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