I recommend that all parents tell their daughters to boycott the military till this horrible system, gets changed.–KAS
Air Force: 31 women were abused at Lackland
BY LOLITA C. BALDOR AND PAUL J. WEBER, The Associated Press
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 San Antonio, the Air Force announced Thursday, providing new details about an investigation that has rocked the service’s training command.
Six of the 12 instructors under investigation for possible misconduct face charges ranging from rape to adultery.
A senior Air Force commander said nine of those instructors were in the same squadron. His briefing for reporters at the Pentagon was at the same time that one of the accused appeared in a Lackland courtroom.
Air Force Staff Sgt. Craig LeBlanc, who is charged with aggravated assault and obstruction of justice, bragged about “getting laid” by a trainee in a supply closet, a fellow airman testified at an evidentiary hearing Thursday.
“I was speechless. I didn’t understand,” said Staff Sgt. Christopher Beck, according to the San Antonio Express-News.
The hearing was to determine whether there is enough evidence to warrant a court-martial.
Gen. Edward Rice, commander of the Air Education and Training Command, said the Air Force believes the misconduct is not widespread throughout the nine training squadrons.
The majority of the instructors under investigation were in the 331st Training Squadron, whose commander was relieved of his post last week. Rice said Lt. Col. Mike Paquette, who has not been accused of misconduct, was relieved because of the “unacceptable level” of misbehavior in his unit.
“In my assessment to this point, it is not an issue of an endemic problem throughout basic military training,” Rice said. “It is more localized, and we are doing a very intensive investigation on that squadron to find out what exactly happened and why.”
Lackland is where every American airman reports for basic training — about 35,000 a year. About 1 in 5 are female, pushed through eight weeks of basic training by instructors who are about 90 percent male.
The sexual misconduct apparently began in 2009, but the first woman came forward only a year ago, Rice said.
The first complaints were about Staff Sgt. Luis Walker, who faces the most serious charges — 28 counts including rape, aggravated sexual contact and multiple counts of aggravated sexual assault. Walker’s court-martial is scheduled to begin July 16. He has not entered a plea.
As the reports of misconduct mounted, the Air Force in March took the almost unprecedented step of shutting down training for an entire day and interviewing about 5,900 trainees.
Rice said that to his knowledge, all of the 31 women identified by investigators are still in the Air Force.
Lackland has about 475 instructors, which is about 85 percent of what the Air Force would consider being fully staffed. Col. Glenn Palmer, who is commander of the entire 737th training wing at Lackland, has said that applicant standards have not been lowered in order to attract more qualified instructors.