Sex Abuse Scandal at Lackland AFB

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As of August 15, 2012- The fallout from a sex scandal at Lackland Air Force Base widened Friday, when the military ousted the top commander over the basic training unit where investigators say dozens of female recruits were sexually assaulted or harassed by their male instructors.

Col. Glenn Palmer had arrived at Lackland last year and was in charge when allegations involving more than a dozen instructors began to mount within his 737th training group. Collen McGee, spokeswoman for the Lackland training wing, said it was decided the unit needed new leadership.

“But Col. Palmer did not create the environment that created the misconduct,” McGee said. Via the Associated Press

As of July 21, 2012 – Staff Sgt. Luis Walker was sentenced by a military jury to 20 years in prison for his crimes that included rape and sexual assault. He was facing a possible maximum of life in prison. He is just one of 12 instructors who have been investigated for sexual misconduct on JBSA. Over 31 female trainees are alleged to have been sexually assaulted at JBSA over a period of a few years. The misconduct isn’t garnering much attention though and Congress seems set on ignoring the complete lack of discipline in San Antonio and possibly throughout military training. Via Huffington Post

Updates as of July 17,2012- A military jury Tuesday was to begin hearing the case of an Air Force sergeant who faces the most serious charges in a widening sex scandal at a Texas base.

Staff Sgt. Luis Walker’s court-martial was set to resume with opening statements and then testimony. Walker is being tried in connection with a scandal that has implicated a dozen people and rocked one of the nation’s busiest military training centers.

He’s among 12 instructors at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio who are being investigated. He faces the most serious charges in the case — 28 counts, including rape, aggravated sexual contact and multiple counts of aggravated sexual assault. He could get up to life in prison and a dishonorable discharge if convicted. Via Washington Post

Previous updates

The scandal is still growing yet Congress apparently is more concerned with health care than their military women.

From the Washington Post:

WASHINGTON — At least 31 female trainees have been identified as victims in a widening sex scandal targeting a dozen instructors at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, the Air Force revealed Thursday, providing new details in an investigation that has rocked the service’s training command.

Six of the 12 instructors under investigation for misconduct face charges ranging from rape to adultery. A senior Air Force commander said nine of those instructors were in the same squadron, briefing reporters at the Pentagon at the same time that one of the accused appeared in a Lackland courtroom.

The Air Force believes that the problem is localized to one training squadron. Lackland sees about 35,000 trainees a year with about 1 in 5 being female. 90% of the Instructors are male.

It isn’t uncommon for those in a position of power to take advantage of the weak and it certainly isn’t uncommon in the United States military however they’ve told the public time and time again that your sons and daughters are safer than ever while in training. The military has certainly come a long way in training after the Vietnam War when physical abuse by Drill Sergeants/Instructors was outlawed but that still hasn’t stopped some from getting out of hand. Recently however the military has been trying to shed some light on a growing issue within the military, an issue that the military seems powerless to stop; rape.

Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif. has sent a letter to the House Armed Services Committee to investigate a growing scandal at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas (JBSA). Lackland is where all Air Force recruits are sent to undergo Basic Training. Like every other military installation males and females are housed in different locations to prevent the inevitable but just like in an actual unit your Instructor can be male or female. Allegations of Instructor misconduct at JBSA have triggered charges against four Staff Sergeants on the installation but the scope of the investigation is growing and so are the number of incidents involving trainers and trainees.

“What is happening at Lackland is systemic and warrants this committee’s immediate attention,” a draft of the letter states. “In light of the alarming trend of sexual assault cases documented in the military as a whole, it is imperative that Congress hold the military accountable and truly implement a zero-tolerance policy in response to this problem.”

Thanks to a Freedom of Information act request the Air Force was forced to reveal that over the past 11 months 35 Military Training Instructors (MTI) were removed from that position due to misconduct. The Air Force did not disclose how many of those cases were due to sexual misconduct but the number of Instructors removed represents a significant breakdown in discipline and oversight.

Air Force lawyers only have said that the number accused of sexual misconduct is fewer than half.

Former Staff Sergeant Airman Peter Vega-Maldonado recently told an evidentiary hearing that while he was a Staff Sergeant he had sexual encounters with 10 female trainees. Maldonado was in charge of an all female training unit. He plead guilty in a deal cut with the Air Force that saved him from a bad conduct discharge but saw him demoted to Airman. The Air Force has been doing its best to keep the lid on the situation at JBSA only acknowledging that they do have a problem on the base and that it is “a horrible situation,” according to Lackland spokeswoman Collen McGee. It is also unknown what the Air Force is doing to correct the issue other than removing certain Instructors from their posts.

Currently the Air Force has charged three other Staff Sergeants who were Military Training Instructors with sexual misconduct,

  • Luis A. Walker – Walker faces a July 16 trial on charges of illicit contact with 10 women, including intercourse with four of them and raping one. He faces life in prison if convicted.
  • Kwinton Estacio – is accused of seeing one.
  • Craig LeBlanc – is accused of being involved with two women.

The entire Air Force basic training program has been ordered to be reviewed by Gen. Edward Rice Jr., head of the Air Education and Training Command while the military continues to investigate further allegations of Instructor misconduct. Many of those accused of being with trainees have claimed that they were in consensual relationships with their trainees but critics are quick to label the militaries poor dealings with rape charges and the knowledge that those accused held power and rank over their trainees. Rep. Jackie Speier also noted that out of the 10 women Vega is accused of being with only 1 has come forward because the others know that the odds of justice are small and the odds that their career would be ruined are extremely high. Disgusting doesn’t begin to cut it.

Information

JBSA was established in accordance with congressional legislation implementing the recommendations of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission. The legislation ordered the consolidation of the three facilities which were adjoining, but separate military installations, into a single joint base – one of 12 joint bases formed in the United States as a result of the law.

Lackland AFB is named after Brigadier General Frank Lackland. It is the only entry processing station for Air Force enlisted Basic Military Training (BMT). It shared this status temporarily with Amarillo Air Force Base during the Vietnam War until Amarillo AFB’s closure in 1968.

Lackland AFB hosts a collection of vintage military aircraft on static display on its parade grounds, including a B-52 Stratofortress, F-4 Phantom II, SR-71 Blackbird, C-121 Constellation, B-17 Flying Fortress and a B-25 Mitchell.

Sources:

My San Antonio

Author: James

I am the owner and main author of My Bloggity Blog. I started this blog on a whim and it grew faster than I ever imagined. I seriously enjoy debating politics and foreign policy as I'm sure you've noticed but I also enjoy a wide array of other things that I try to include here.

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  • Ann

    I never once had a problem with my MTI who was a male. I am at a loss for how these idiots found the time to behave this way with trainees. There are rules about what time male MTI's were required to leave our squad bay each night. I never once spent any time alone with my MTI. In the end there are bad people every where this does NOT mean that the entire military is bad or that the entire Air Force is bad. I was never sexually harassed. I was NEVER treated with anything other than respect the entire time that I was in.

    • James

      There are great Drill Sergeants/Instructors and I honestly think that is why people are so blindsided by this still growing scandal. It wouldn't be so shocking if one MTI took advantage of his power but its clear that there are quite a few MTIs who got way out of line with their recruits. I didn't know about the times they had to leave the bay so thank you for adding that to the discussion. Thank you for your comment and your service to this country.

  • Jill

    It's amazing to me that women still join the military.