Air Force Instructor Convicted Of Rape, Assault

By: AP/CBS (Posted by Melissa Brunner)
By: AP/CBS (Posted by Melissa Brunner)
Staff Sgt. Luis Walker showed no emotion as a "guilty" verdict was read against him Friday in an Lackland Air Force Base courtroom.

Air Force Staff Sgt. Luis Walker arrives for the fourth day of his trial at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas on July 20, 2012. (Billy Calzada,AP Photo/San Antonio Express News)

(CBS/AP) SAN ANTONIO - A military jury has convicted an Air Force instructor of rape, sexual assault and all other counts he faced as part of a sweeping sex scandal at the Texas base where all U.S. airmen go through basic training.

Staff Sgt. Luis Walker showed no emotion as the verdict was read Friday in an Lackland Air Force Base courtroom. The jury made up of seven military personnel convicted him on all 28 counts he faced. He faces up to life in prison.

Walker is one of 12 Lackland instructors investigated for sexual misconduct. He faced the most serious charges among the six instructors who have been charged.

Prosecutors say Walker raped one female trainee and sexually assaulted or had inappropriate sexual or personal contact with nine others.

Walker's trial is seen as the cornerstone of a major investigation into trainers at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, where every American airman receives basic training. Six instructors have been charged on counts ranging from rape to adultery. Walker is the first to stand trial.

Maj. Patricia Gruen said trainees arrived at Lackland "terrified" of their instructor, and Walker used that fear to take advantage of them.

"He is the wolf in sheep's clothing. Consummate predator," Gruen said.

He took his victims to hallways and other areas where surveillance cameras would not catch him, she said.

Trainers like Walker "rule their worlds," Gruen said. "They get off that bus and, bam! Their world is changed."

Gruen took just less than an hour for her closing argument.

Prosecutors called 14 witnesses, including one alleged victim who gave a video deposition because she had recently given birth and could not travel to the base.

On Tuesday, one alleged victim fought back tears as she testified that Walker lured her into his office and sexually assaulted her on a bed, ignoring her pleas for him to stop. She and others told jurors they were afraid that reporting Walker's actions would get them kicked out of the Air Force.

The Associated Press typically doesn't identify alleged sexual assault victims.

The defense called just one witness, Tech. Sgt. Richard Capestro, who testified that instructors and trainees at the Lackland base are under constant surveillance and officials conduct surprise inspections of trainee dormitory areas without warning — seemingly attempting to cast doubt on the possibility Walker could have committed rape and sexual assault on the premises.

Capestro said there are cameras in the hallways and at least some of the stairwells around base dormitories, and that open microphones allow an official on duty in a control room to push a button and listen in on any activity in the dorms.

Lackland has about 475 instructors for the approximately 35,000 airmen who graduate every year. About one in five is female, pushed through eight weeks of basic training by a group of instructors, 90 percent of whom are men.

© 2012 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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