Courts-Martial Set In Air Force Sex Scandal

By: CBS - Posted by Giang Nguyen
By: CBS - Posted by Giang Nguyen
The Air Force announced Wednesday that two training instructors at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas were referred to special courts-martial in a growing sexual misconduct scandal.

In this June 22, 2012, image made from video, female airmen march during graduation at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio. (AP Photo/John L. Mone)

(CBS News) The Air Force announced Wednesday that two training instructors at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas were referred to special courts-martial in a growing sexual misconduct scandal.

Master Sgt. Jamey Crawford was accused of wrongfully conducting a sexual relationship with a basic trainee and other offenses. Allegations against Tech. Sgt. Christopher Smith included wrongfully making sexual advances toward a trainee.

Their trial dates have not yet been set.

A dozen instructors have been suspected of assaulting female recruits.

Allegations of sexual misconduct between instructors and cadets began there last summer, and the Pentagon has ordered a comprehensive strategic review of the entire Air Force training community.

The widespread criminal investigation is looking into the possibility that cases of sexual misconduct extend beyond Lackland.

Investigators are looking at four Air Force bases in two states.

Since allegations of misconduct began, 35 military instructors have been removed from their posts. Four have been accused.

Sgt. Luis Walker, one of the accused instructors, pleaded not guilty and faces court-martial. He's charged with raping or sexually assaulting 10 recruits between October 2010 and January 2011.

The Air Force says it's being fully transparent.

"I want the public to know what's going on," said Lackland's Col. Glenn Palmer. "I don't want the possibility of someone saying, 'Well look - they're trying to cover it up.'"

The investigation comes as Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced wider plans to deal with the issue.

In April, he said, "We will continue to develop our strategies. We'll continue to devote our energy and our intention to enforcing our department's zero-tolerance policy on sexual assault."

On Capitol Hill, lawmakers such as Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., want to investigate the matter further with a hearing of their own.

"Congress has known about this problem in the military for 25 years," she said in an interview broadcast on "CBS This Morning" Wednesday. "We've had lots of hearings, lots of reports. But are we willing to step up and do the right thing by taking it out of the chain of command so the victims really have the freedom to report these crimes and feel that they are not going to be marginalized and labeled and then dismissed from the military?"

This could be the worst sexual misconduct scandal to hit the military since a similar case involving the Army in Aberdeen, Md., in 1996.

On Wednesday, victims of military sexual assault planned to lobby members of Congress seeking support for legislation sponsored by Speier called the Stop Act. It would take probes of military sexual assault away from commanders and put them in the hands of a separate military unit.


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