a total of 15 training sergeants convicted or under investigation
A second Lackland Air Force Base Military Training Instructor has been convicted in that sex with recruits scandal at the home of Air Force Basic Training, and for the first time, a U.S. Senator has joined the call for a full Congressional inquiry into problems facing military basic training, 1200 WOAI news reports.
A court martial at Lackland late Wednesday convicted Technical Sergeant Christopher Smith, 33, on two specifications of unprofessional relationships with two basic trainees.
Prosecutors said Smith 'specifically sought to develop and conduct personal and intimate relationships with one female trainee and he carried on a personal social relationship with another female trainee.'
Col. Polly Kenny, who is with the Air Force Judge Advocate General's Office, says unlike Sgt. Luis Walker, who was convicted last month on 28 counts and sentenced to 25 years in prison, Smith was not charged with rape.
"Sergeant Smith was charged with attempting to have a sexual relationship with a trainee," she said.
Smith was found not guilty of an additional specification of having an unprofessional relationship and was also acquitted of obstruction of justice.
Smith was convicted by what the Uniform Code of Military Justice calls a 'special' court martial, a streamlined process allowed in cases where the maximum penalty is no more than a year in prison. That's the sentence Smith faces when the punishment phase of the trial begins today.
Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) said Wednesday he will try to open hearings into the conduct of Military Training Instructors at Lackland, and look into possible problems facing military basic training and the integration of women into the military.
"I do intend to ask Senator (Carl) Levin (D-Mich) who is chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Senator (John) McCain (R-Ariz) who is the ranking member, to hold hearings at the appropriate time," Cornyn told 1200 WOAI news.
"Specifically what I'm talking about are what kind of policy changes, what kind of training, what kind of preventative measures the Air Force will put into place," Cornyn said.
Cornyn has also blocked the nomination of the proposed Air Force Chief of Staff over concerns that Lackland is "not adequately addressing the unacceptable situation."
U.S. Rep Jackie Speier (D-Calif) has already called for hearings in the House, and her request has received several dozen co-sponsors. Speier has claimed that the problem of women in the military being sexually harassed and raped by men in command positions is far more widespread than officials have been willing to believe, and she says the twenty year sentence meted out to Walker is inadequate, and claiming that "sexual predators are on the prowl" in the military.
"I'm sick of the excuses," she said.
Smith's conviction brings to three the number of MTIs at Lackland who have either been convicted or pled guilty in connection with the scandal. A total of 38 women have come forward to claim they were victims of inappropriate conduct at the hands of their basic training instructors, and a total of 15 male sergeants have either been charged or have been notified they are under investigation.