Sex Scandal Rocks Texas Air Force Base; Allegations Lead to Charges Against 4 Instructors

Paul J. Weber, Washington Post, June 25, 2012

From a chapel pulpit on Lackland Air Force Base, where every American airman reports for basic training, Col. Glenn Palmer delivered his first order to nearly 600 recruits seated in the pews: If you’re sexually harassed or assaulted, tell someone.


What the colonel did not mention directly in his recent address was a widening sex scandal that has rocked the base, one of the nation’s busiest military training centers. Allegations that male instructors had sex with, and in one case raped, female trainees have led to criminal charges against four men. Charges against others are possible.

The most serious accusations surround an Air Force staff sergeant scheduled to face a court-martial in July on charges that include rape and multiple counts of aggravated sexual assault. The other three defendants were charged with lesser crimes ranging from sexual misconduct to adultery. All of the defendants were assigned to turn raw recruits into airmen in eight weeks of basic training.


Yet there are signs the Air Force still doesn’t have a handle on the full depth of the problem. Staff Sgt. Peter Vega-Maldonado pleaded guilty earlier this month to having sex with a female trainee and struck a plea deal for 90 days’ confinement. Then he acknowledged being involved with a total of 10 trainees—a number previously unknown to investigators.

Peter Vega-Maldonado


Lackland has about 475 instructors for the nearly 36,000 airmen who will graduate this year. {snip}

Palmer said that a slight shortage in instructors has not lowered the standards for applicants. {snip}


The first sexual misconduct allegations at Lackland surfaced a year ago against Staff Sgt. Luis Walker, who is charged with 28 counts.

Luis Walker

Walker, the only instructor who has been accused of sexually assaulting another airman, faces life in prison if convicted. {snip}



Share This

We welcome comments that add information or perspective, and we encourage polite debate. If you log in with a social media account, your comment should appear immediately. If you prefer to remain anonymous, you may comment as a guest, using a name and an e-mail address of convenience. Your comment will be moderated.