Friday, June 29, 2012
Air Force Sex Scandal Probe Reveals 31 Victims at Texas Base

Air Force Sex Scandal Probe Reveals 31 Victims at Texas Base

The U.S. Air Force announced Thursday that 31 women have been identified as victims in a year-long investigation into a sex scandal encompassing officers responsible for training recruits.

 "We are taking a comprehensive look not only at the cases that we know, but trying to do the best we can to assess whether or not there are other cases out there," four-star Gen. Edward Rice, Commander of Air Force training, told reporters outside of the Pentagon on Thursday.

Rice went on to say that the Air Force is broadening its intensive, year-long investigation to "actively seek any others that may have been affected by this."

The scandal centers around Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, where twelve instructors are being accused of being sexually deviant, whether it be through rape or adultery, with 31 female cadets ranging back to 2010.

The strongest allegations have been made against Staff Sgt. Luis Walker, who was the first to be accused of sexual misconduct by a female trainee in June 2011.

Walker, who is to make his first appearance in court on July 16, faces 28 counts of sexual misconduct, including rape, aggravated sexual contact and multiple counts of aggravated sexual assault, The Associated Press reports.

Two other officers are facing charges as of this week. Master Sgt. Jamey Crawford is accused of giving alcohol to a female cadet and then having sex with her, and Tech. Sgt. Christopher Smith is accused of making sexual advances toward one trainee and conducting an inappropriate personal relationship with another trainee, according to CNN.

Gen. Rice also told reporters on Thursday that the Lackland base, which is where all American airmen report for training, made the "unprecedented step" of shutting down training for a day to interview roughly 5,900 trainees regarding sexual misconduct.

According to The Associated Press, very few trainees spoke negatively about their instructors during the interviews.

The Lackland Air Force Base consists of about one in five female airmen out of its 35,000 trainees per year, and these trainees are coached by a 90 percent male staff, according to the AP.

"I will look at whether we need to hire more female MTIs, and whether we need to have only female MTIs over female trainees," Rice told reporters in relation to this stark gender contrast at the base, according to CNN.

Rice also said that he does not believe the sexual misconduct was endemic on the entire base, but rather localized to one of the nine squadrons.

"Nine of those 12 [instructors] were in one unit. We have a total of nine squadrons, and nine of them came from one squadron. So in my assessment to this point, it is not an issue of an endemic problem throughout basic military training. It is more localized," he told reporters.

Rice told the reporters that all of the 31 victims identified in the sex scandal have remained in the Air Force.

As CNN reports, the Pentagon estimates 19,000 sexual assaults occur per year in the Air Force. Of this number, 14 percent of the assaults are officially reported, and only 8 percent go to court.


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