As of right now, roughly thirty-one female Air Force trainees have been identified as victims in what is becoming a major sex scandal for the military. Six instructors face charges ranging from rape to adultery, and there are another six who are also under investigation at Lackland AFB in Texas. Nine of the instructors under investigation are from the same squadron, the 331st Training Squadron.
Lieutenant Colonel Mike Paquette, the commander in charge of the squadron, was relieved of his post last week because of the “unacceptable level” of misbehavior in the unit.
Air Force Staff Sergeant Craig LeBlanc has been charged with aggravated assault and obstruction of justice. He has allegedly bragged about having sex with a trainee in a supply closet, as one of his fellow airmen testified on Thursday. Staff Sergeant Christopher Beck told the San Antonio Express-News “I was speechless. I didn’t understand.”
General Edward Rice, the commander of the Air Education and Training Command, stated that the Air Force does not believe that the misconduct by the twelve under investigation is wide spread within the nine training squadrons, and stated “In my assessment to this point, it is not an issue of an endemic problem throughout basic military training. It is more localized, and we are doing a very intensive investigation on that squadron to find out what exactly happened and why.” The alleged ‘sexual misconduct’ began in 2009, but it was not until last year that the first woman came forward.
Staff Sergeant Luis Walker was the first to have allegations leveled against him. He is charged with twenty-eight counts including rape, aggravated sexual contact and multiple counts of sexual assault. He faces court-martial next month, and has not entered a plea yet.
Lackland is where all Air Force trainees must go for basic training, and about 35,000 trainees process through every year. One in five of them are women while one in ten instructors are men. The allegations of misconduct resulted in the shutting down of the entire base for a day while trainees were interviewed. There were few negative comments about instructors. Rice has also indicated that all 31 of the victims are still within the military.