Army Staff Sergeant Angel Sanchez is facing 20 years in prison after being found guilty Wednesday of sexually assaulting several of the female soldiers under his command.
The former Drill Sergeant was charged with inappropriately touching eight soldiers and committing sexual assault against four others. The Inquisitr reported earlier this year that Sanchez had also been accused of using his position of authority with the 14th Military Police Brigade to threaten some of the women after assaulting them. One of the soldiers testified at the military trial that rebuffing the sergeant’s advances would have jeopardized her military career.
Sanchez was found guilty of four counts of sexual assault, six counts of abusive sexual contact, and several lesser charges of maltreatment at a court-martial. According to MSN, most of the allegations against him involved soldiers at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, but there were accusations from women at other duty stations also.
Staff Sergeant Sanchez was accused of using his position as a supervisor in the 14th Military Police Brigade at Fort Leonard Wood to secure the trust of his victims by providing them with favors, including cake and ice cream.
The Fort Leonard Wood soldiers said that the assaults took place in the female barracks bathroom and in an office the drill sergeant shared with his co-workers. There were also allegations brought against Sanchez by a medic in Afghanistan and a soldier at Fort Richardson, Alaska.
Several of the women testified that the assaults left them fearful and doubting the decision they had made to serve their country in the military.
“I no longer wanted to be part of the Army,” one soldier said. “I didn’t trust any of my superiors, or even my male peers.”
Sanchez pleaded guilty of three charges of disobeying orders by having sexual contact with three of the female trainees at the onset of the court-martial Monday. He was also found not guilty of nine of the counts against him, including the rape of a medic while he was stationed in Afghanistan in 2011 and 2012, and several of charges were dismissed at a pre-trial hearing this spring.
According to ABC, Sanchez’s lawyer, Ernesto Gapasin, questioned the female soldier’s credibility, saying that some of the women who initially accused the Staff Sergeant were facing disciplinary action or forced separation from the military at the time they filed the complaints. He also suggested that three of the women who accused Sanchez of forcing them to perform oral sex on him had actually consented to the act.
“The government wants to focus on this overwhelming control Sgt. Sanchez had over his accusers,” Gapasin said. “What this case is really about is consent and conjecture.”
Sanchez, a married father of two, didn’t testify at the court-marshal, but did apologize to his victims after the verdict was read.
“I hope someday you’ll be able to forgive me,” he told the victims, many of whom were present for the trail. “I let a lot of people down.”
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