Army Sergeant Angel M. Sanchez has been accused of sexually assaulting 12 soldiers over the past three years. Staff Sergeant Sanchez charges include claims that “several” of the sexual assaults occurred while he was deployed in Afghanistan.
Angel Sanchez was present for a pretrial hearing in Fort Leonard Wood earlier this week. Defense attorney Ernesto Gasapin told the media that the Army sergeant could face a court martial later this year. Court records state that Sergeant Sanchez is also accused of using his position of authority with the 14th Military Police Brigade to threaten some of the female soldiers that he is accused of sexually assaulting.
Fort Leonard Wood spokesperson Tiffany Wood told the media that Sergeant Sanchez is accused of touching eight women “inappropriately” and committing sexual assault against four others. The charges filed against the Army staff sergeant were revealed shortly after Congress criticized the Pentagon for the way the department handles sexual assaults in the military. The US Department of Defense stated that more than 5,000 sexual abuse reports were filed during the past fiscal year. The sexual assault claims constitute a 50 percent increase from the prior reporting period.
A formal report regarding sexual abuse in the military by the Pentagon, the first such document ever released, according to Fox News, was released two days after the charge against Army Sergeant Angel Sanchez were picked up by multiple media outlets. The document reportedly states that a “vast majority” of the sexual abuses cases involve a lower-ranking woman and an older and senior enlisted male armed forces member from the same unit.
Staff Sergeant Angel Sanchez served a tour in both Afghanistan and Iraq. He also earned a Bronze Star before being transferred to a post in Missouri late lat summer. One of the alleged assault took place at Fort Richardson in Alaska. Until the sexual assault case is resolved, the Army sergeant has been assigned to a desk job in an office on post.
Some of the alleged sexual assault victims testified at the pretrial hearing on Wednesday. According to Gasapin, the original accuser has not yet taken the stand.
The sergeant’s defense attorney also said:
“It starts as one allegation and spreads out. We have serious questions about the credibility of the witnesses making these accusation.”
Gasapin fully expects the investigation in Sanchez’s conduct will be completed by June. Once the investigation has concluded, the Army sexual assault case could be scheduled for a court martial proceeding, the charges downgraded, our outright dismissed.
[Image Via: Danny Cashman/MP School Graduation]