Sergeant Luis Walker was charged with rape and sexual assault on Saturday and will serve 20 years in prison for his offenses. The scandal took place in one of the most prestigious military training centers in the United States, Lackland Air Force Base, and Walker’s case was only one among many indecent incidents that occurred in the last few years.
Walker is among 12 instructors from Lackland that have been part of a sexual misconduct scandal in recent years, the New York Times reports. All of the instructors face a range of charges after they used their positions of power to dominate female students and sometimes force them into traumatic and compromising positions. A total of 38 women have come forward to testify about the occurrences at the training academy.
Walker faces the most serious charges of all the instructors. It is charged that between the fall of 2010 and into January of 2011, Sergeant Walker participated in and forced sexual misconduct on at least 10 female academy students. Those 10 women gave testimony in court. The New York Times quotes one woman’s testimony during the trial. She recounts the trauma she felt after she had been forced into sexual acts because of Walker’s position of power:
Itís made it extremely hard to interact with authority figures… During my tour in Afghanistan, I was a little bit more scared of everything. I canít work with certain individuals just since they remind me of Staff Sergeant Walker.
Walker and his wife, Yeimi, asked the military to reduce his sentence so that he could continue to raise his two small boys, aged four and seven. The Daily Mail notes that family and old friends testified on Walker’s behalf as an earnest and committed member of the military during the trial. They also provided good character reviews reflecting on his work ethic growing up. He heard the verdict with a steely expression.
The victims of the sexual assaults spoke out with emotion, according to every account of the trial. Many of the women expressed their fear and discomfort with the military and the form of masculinity that allows such sexual assault to occur. One woman also testified that she discouraged other female relatives from joining the military after her experiences, the Daily Mail reports.
Walker was far from the only male at Lackland who misused his authority in relation to female students at the academy. On Thursday, Sgt. Christopher Smith was sentenced to 30 days in jail and a reduction in rank after he was charged with seeking to develop a relationship with a teenage trainee. He was acquitted of trying to make sexual advances on the trainee but will still face a reduction in rank and will no longer be allowed to teach.
Three more instructors face court martials this summer, MSNBC reports. Some officials are asking for a revision to sexual assault policies and prevention programs in the military in order to avoid further scandals. This newest wave of sexual assault cases is the second of this magnitude to occur in 16 years at Lackland Air Force Base.
Photo Credit: USAF Public Affairs