The Lackland Air Force Base Sex Scandal, Texas (2011)

USAF Seal

The Lackland Air Force Base Basic Military Training instructor sex scandal in San Antonio, Texas was one of the biggest sex scandals in military history. In the end, 62 recruits were identified in the scandal and 35 basic military training personnel were courts martialed for alleged abuse of trainees or sex related offenses. The majority of the alleged abuse occurred between 2009 and 2011. SSgt Luis Walker and MSgt Michael Silva were the only instructors found guilty of rape and each was sentenced to twenty years in prison. Prior to their convictions, on January 23, 2013, the House Armed Services Committee conducted an investigation into the sexual assault misconduct at Lackland Air Force Base and heard from General Mark Welsh (Chief of Staff), General Edward Rice (AETC Commander), two retired USAF women, and Dr. David Lisak (a consultant hired by General Welsh). This was also the same day that then Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta announced the military was lifting the ban on women in combat. As a result of this announcement, the media’s focus was distracted from the hearing on sexual assault in the military to the celebration of equality for women in the military.

No substantial legislation was enacted to address the successful prosecution of and prevention of these alleged abuses of power. The military officer’s authority to choose whether to investigate and prosecute felony crimes and how continues to go unchecked. Legislation introduced in May 2013 would have helped provide due process to both the accused and accuser by giving a military prosecutor the authority to move forward with a case. Unfortunately this legislation has been blocked by the Senate, primarily led by Senator Claire McCaskill, since 2013 until present. Whistleblowers have since disclosed that the Air Force investigations at Lackland trampled on due process rights. And individuals were railroaded with collateral charges which forced them to take plea deals to avoid excessive punishments. The Air Force is being accused of going on a “witch hunt” after being politically motivated to clean up the basic training facility while under the watchful eye of the media, advocates, and Congress.

The solution to help both the accused and accuser get a fair investigation and trial is to have a justice system that more closely resembles that of the civilian court systems or to simply use the civilian court systems. In the civilian legal system, victims of crimes report to the police where the name of the individual they are reporting is entered into a national crime database. Impartial detectives conduct independent investigations and provide the results of their investigations to a prosecutor. A prosecutor determines whether or not there is enough evidence to move forward with the successful prosecution of a case. The accused has the right to remain silent, right to be represented by an attorney, right to the opportunity to plead “not guilty” or “guilty”, and the right to request a jury trial. In other words, soldiers should have the same constitutional rights as their civilian counterparts. Soldiers have no choice over how things get handled in the military justice system because the Commander has all the control.

Passing military justice reform that guarantees due process rights for the accused and accuser and overturning the Feres Doctrine should be our highest priority.

United States Air Force Basic Training scandal
Lackland Sex Scandal, Huffington Post
At An Air Force Base, Allegations Of Sexual Assault
Lackland sex scandal prompts U.S. Air Force to discipline former commanders
Sexual Assault Survivors Criticize Sentence Given to Lackland Instructor
Lackland Rape Scandal Shines Spotlight On Military Failure
31 victims identified in widening Air Force sex scandal
31 female victims identified so far in sex scandal, Air Force says
Air Force Sexual Assault Scandal Even Worse Than We Thought
Report Confirms: Sexual Abuse Rampant at Lackland Air Force Base
Why Won’t Congress Investigate the Sex Abuse Scandal at Lackland AFB
Sex-assault scandal casts a pall over Lackland AFB
Lackland sex scandal continues to roil Air Force
HASC Hearing: Sexual Misconduct Allegations at Lackland Air Force Base
A Review of Sexual Misconduct by Basic Training Instructors at Lackland Air Force Base, House Hearing, 113 Congress
A Review of Sexual Misconduct by Basic Training Instructors at Lackland Air Force Base
General admits failure in Lackland sex scandal; 32 alleged culprits
Air Force chief: Scope of the Lackland sex scandal is ‘stunning’
Air Force Chief Calls Sex Misconduct a ‘Cancer’
Even After Lackland Scandal, Military Still Isn’t Fixing Its Sexual Abuse Epidemic
Advocates: Lackland hearings should spark reforms, not more empty promises
Attacked at 19 by an Air Force Trainer, and Speaking Out
Survivor of sexual violence at Lackland Air Force Base speaks out
Changes driven by Lackland scandal not complete
The Case Study of Craig Perry and the Future of Command in the U.S. Air Force
Relieved of command — Leader tried to reach out; investigation cites favoritism
Commander Says He Was Fired for Helping Airmen
I Sued My Husband’s Commander
Controversially fired Lt. Col. Perry retires, plans memoir
SSgt Luis Walker Commits Suicide at Leavenworth Where He Was Serving A 20 Year Sentence for Sexual Assault
MSgt Michael Silva, Lackland Air Force Base Basic Military Training Instructor, Sentenced to 20 Years for Two Rapes
A Complete List of the 35 Basic Military Training Instructors Court Martialed in the Lackland Air Force Base Sex Scandal
Never Leave an Airman Behind: How the Air Force Faltered and Failed in the Wake of the Lackland Sex Scandal

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