The Lackland Air Force Base sex scandal erupted in the 2011/2012 time frame. Sig Christenson, a reporter from San Antonio Express, slowly began to reveal the sex scandal issues at the basic military training facility in Texas and reported on most of the courts martials initiated by the Air Force. As a result of the escalating media coverage and other forces at play, it gave military sexual assault advocacy organizations a reason to request hearings in front of the House Armed Services Committee. Congressional hearings were held on January 23, 2013. Both General Edward Rice and General Mark Welsh testified at this hearing along with two retired Air Force women and Dr. David Lisak. In the end, 35 Basic Military Training personnel were courts martialed for allegedly abusing trainees or sex related offenses. Now that the dust has settled and some time has passed, whistleblowers have disclosed that the Air Force investigations trampled on due process rights. And individuals were railroaded with collateral charges which forced them to take plea deals to avoid excessive punishments. Two were found guilty of rape and sentenced to twenty years. 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. This post was inspired by Never Leave an Airman Behind: How the Air Force Faltered & Failed in the Wake of the Lackland Sex Scandal by Lt Col Craig Perry, USAF Retired.
“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.
The findings of guilty for Charge III, Specification 1 are set aside and dismissed. The remaining findings of guilty are affirmed. The sentence is set aside. The record of trial is returned to The Judge Advocate General for remand to an appropriate convening authority who may order a rehearing to determine an appropriate sentence for the affirmed findings of guilty. If the convening authority determines that a rehearing on the sentence is impracticable, the convening authority may approve a sentence of “no punishment” or dismiss the remaining charges and specifications. –USAF Court of Criminal Appeals
General admits failure in Lackland sex scandal; 32 alleged culprits
Cross-Cultural Expert Brought In For Lackland Court-Martial
Lackland trainer handed 4 years in rape
Lackland sergeant found guilty in rape case
Air Force instructor gets 4 years for raping trainee
Air Force trainer convicted of raping ex-trainee
Air Force trainer found guilty of raping cadet in Lackland base abuse scandal
US v. SSgt EDDY C. SOTO, US Air Force, ACM 38422, 16 September 2014
Court throws out Lackland trainer’s rape conviction (San Antonio Express)
Court throws out Lackland trainer’s rape conviction (Stars & Stripes)
Air Force appeals court tosses MTI rape conviction
Military overturns Lackland Air Force Base rape conviction
SSgt Eddy Soto Court-Martial Conviction for Rape Set Aside by Air Force Appellate Court
The Lackland Air Force Base Sex Scandal, Texas (2011)
A Complete List of the 35 Basic Military Training Instructors Court Martialed in the Lackland Air Force Base Sex Scandal