SSgt Craig LeBlanc was a Basic Military Training Instructor at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. He is also one of the 35 instructors courts martialed after a base-wide investigation into sexual abuse claims referred to as the Lackland Sex Scandal. He was accused of having inappropriate relationships with recruits, adultery, and sexual assault. He was found not guilty of sexual assault. Nonetheless, SSgt LeBlanc was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison in February 2013. Although the actions for which he was found guilty were unprofessional and in fact Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) infractions, they were not criminal in nature yet he got prison time for consensual sex and adultery, a law that doesn’t exist in the civilian world. The Air Force gave SSgt LeBlanc the fourth longest prison sentence. SSgt Eddy Soto was sentenced to four years for the rape of a trainee but a year and a half later, the Air Force Criminal Court of Appeals overturned the conviction and set aside the original prison sentence. The rape charge lacked evidence beyond a reasonable doubt. SSgt Luis Walker and MSgt Michael Silva were both sentenced to twenty years for rape and sexual assault convictions. SSgt LeBlanc attempted to appeal his sentence but the military appeals court denied it.
“The dismissal of these two specifications does not dramatically change the penalty landscape; in fact, only the maximum confinement authorized would change. Without the convictions on these two specifications, the confinement exposure is reduced from 22 years and 1 month to 18 years and 1 month. The appellant was sentenced to confinement for 30 months. Having considered the totality of the circumstances, we would reassess the appellant’s sentence to the same sentence approved by the convening authority.” -USAF Court of Criminal Appeals (March 2015)
On May 11, 2009, SSG John Russell gunned down five of his fellow comrades at a mental health clinic at Camp Liberty in Iraq with his M-16. It was revealed that he had an argument with someone at the clinic, left, and came back with his gun. His crimes were determined to be premeditated. He was arrested and subsequently charged with murder and aggravated assault of another soldier that was seriously injured. Days before the killings witnesses noticed that he was distant and having suicidal thoughts. He was also scheduled to leave Iraq in a few days. He was tried for the murders of his fellow comrades and found guilty. He was sentenced to life in prison on May 16, 2013. But his family feels that the Army should also take responsibility for their actions. The family believes that John was broken and not treated for the injuries he sustained in combat, in the line of duty. SSG Russell was being treated for symptoms associated with Post Traumatic Stress with medications but it is believed that the psychotropics the military psychiatrists prescribed to him may have played a role in his actions. He was described as a kind, caring man up until the day he committed the unforeseen murders against his fellow soldiers.
My original efforts were inspired by Carri Leigh Goodwin, LaVena Johnson, and the many other servicemembers who did not survive as a result of their service to this country. In honor of these men and women, we pledge to fight for justice on their behalf, amplify their voices, and support the families who deserve to know the truth.
In August 2007 at the age of eighteen (18), Carri Leigh Goodwin of Alliance, Ohio enlisted in the United States Marine Corps to make her Marine Corps veteran father proud. During her short time in the Marine Corps, Carri was sexually assaulted by two different men while serving, reported the crimes, and instead of being taking seriously was discharged with a mental health diagnosis and misconduct discharge. Like most rape survivors, Carri had acute Post Traumatic Stress (PTSD) from the brutal assaults she endured. Carri Leigh Goodwin died on February 28, 2009 from alcohol poisoning only a few days after being discharged from the U.S. Marine Corps. Gary Noling wants to honor her and all the families who have lost their child to the sexual assault and violence epidemic in the U.S. military. Gary wrote about his experience with the tragic loss of his daughter in the New York Times in August 2016: What the Military Owes Rape Survivors Like My Daughter.