Push For Harsher Laws Follow Alleged Sexual Misconduct On Texas Base
Three federal lawmakers – who are also members of the U.S. House of Armed Services Committee – recently visited Lackland Air Force Base in Texas and voiced their support for an extensive revamping of military procedures to combat alleged improper sexual conduct in the military. The changes, if passed, may have a long-lasting impact given that military personnel already face severe consequences if convicted of a serious crime.
Texas air force base allegations
Lackland Air Force Base – which trains roughly 36,000 Air Force recruits each year – has been steeped in controversy since the summer of 2011 when allegations of improper sexual conduct first came to light.
Many of the sexual misconduct allegations involve claims of improper sexual relationships between instructors and recruits – claims ranging from adultery to sexual assault. More than 40 recruits have alleged suffering from alleged sexual misconduct at the hands of their instructor.
So far, three commanding officers have been relieved of duty or transferred and five training sergeants have been found guilty or pled guilty to charges related to the alleged improper sexual conduct. Twelve instructors have also been put on notice that they are under investigation, with one addition instructor awaiting his court martial.
Proposed changes to military sex abuse procedures
On their recent visit, the lawmakers were told of the steps currently being taken by the Air Force to rectify the situation, steps such as reducing instructor working hours and installing “drop boxes” at locations on the base where alleged misconduct can be reported without fear of being filmed by surveillance or seen by instructors.
However, the three lawmakers are calling for an even greater response to this recent military sex scandal. Specifically, they are proposing stricter reporting requirements and making sex abuse counselors available to recruits. Lawmakers are also considering a proposal that obligates military supervisors to report known sexual abuse or face a possible criminal conviction themselves.
One of the lawmakers was reported as saying that any instructor found guilty of any sexually improper acts should be “removed from the Air Force, period,” according to Reuters.
Consequences for military convictions
The impact of a military criminal conviction for an alleged crime on-base can be devastating for a military career. Also, if convicted of a serious crime off-base, the military member not only faces a likely dishonorable discharge, but also the loss of any earned pension and other benefits.
Dishonorable discharges can impact a person’s ability to find employment or sometimes the ability to get into various schools and colleges, not to mention that even minor convictions can lead to the prohibition of ever legally owning a firearm.
As the recent Texas military base sex scandal illustrates, criminal convictions while in the military can have life-long consequences. If you are a member of the military and have been accused of a crime, it is important to speak with an experienced military criminal defense attorney to be advised of your rights and options.