“Soto faced as much as life without parole for the rape, one of six charges and eight specifications of misconduct.” -My SA
SSgt Eddy Soto was a basic military training instructor at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. Soto was one of the 35 instructors courts martialed in what is referred to as the Lackland Sex Scandal. SSgt Soto was accused of unprofessional relationships, adultery, and the rape of one airman whom it appeared he had a relationship with. Investigators learned of the relationship Soto had with the airman who accused him of rape as part of a widespread probe into MTI misconduct. Soto faced life without parole but prosecutors asked for 12-15 years. Soto pleaded guilty to five charges and admitted that he had unprofessional relationships with a trainee and a civilian who had come to the base to see her husband graduate from basic training. He also admitted to adultery charges but he denied the rape accusation. He was convicted and sentenced to four years in prison in March 2013. After his confinement ended, he would be dishonorably discharged from the Air Force. Soto was the second instructor convicted of rape in the scandal. SSgt Luis Walker was the first conviction and he received 20 years for the rape of one airman and sexual assault of several others.
In an exceptional ruling by the Air Force Criminal Court of Appeals, Soto’s conviction for rape was overturned in Sept 2014. The military appeals court ruled the evidence was “factually insufficient” to support the conviction. In other words, there wasn’t enough evidence to find him guilty in the first place. The appeals court upheld the lesser charges of unprofessional relationships, adultery, and false official statement. The judge ruled the four year sentence and dishonorable discharge should be set aside and the case was referred back to the convening authority who had the authority to hold a new sentencing hearing. Soto remained jailed at the Naval Consolidated Brig Miramar in California while the government decided whether to ask the appeals court to reconsider their ruling. SSgt Eddy Soto served over a year and a half for a rape conviction that lacked evidence beyond a reasonable doubt. Media reports stated Soto would be re-sentenced by a lower court for unprofessional relationships, adultery, and false official statement. Further on-line research did not find evidence of the final disposition of SSgt Soto’s case. We do not know if he was re-sentenced, released from prison and when, or if he was discharged from the military.
An Indiana man was taken into custody in North Carolina Wednesday, accused of killing his 15-month old son.
Matthew Theurer of Portland, Ind., was arrested after the body of his baby was discovered in a bag on the side of a highway about 100 miles away from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base. Theurer is a senior airman at the base.
He is charged with voluntary manslaughter, negligent homicide and murder.
At the first Senate hearing to be held on the issue in nearly a decade, members of the Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel indicated they will push the acting general counsel for the Department of Defense and the military’s top legal officials, judge advocate generals (JAG), on deficiencies in the military justice system highlighted by the case.
“The issue of sexual violence in the military is not new. And it has been allowed to go on in the shadows for far too long,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), the subcommittee chair, said in her opening statement. She called the military justice system dysfunctional, noting that less than one out of 10 reported attackers are held accountable. The Department of Defense estimates that military sexual assault claimed 19,000 victims in fiscal year 2011 — more than 50 per day.
“We need to take a close look at our military justice system, and we need to be asking the hard questions, with all options on the table, including moving this issue outside of the chain of command, so we can get closer to a true zero-tolerance reality in the Armed Forces,” Gillibrand continued. “The case we have all read about at Aviano Air Base is shocking, and the outcome should compel all of us to take the necessary action to ensure that justice is swift and certain, not rare and fleeting.”