An Air Force instructor from Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio was sentenced to 20 years in prison Saturday, according to USA Today. Staff Sgt. Luis Walker was found guilty Friday night on 28 charges — which a judge consolidated to 20 — that include rape, aggravated sexual contact and multiple counts of aggravated sexual assault.
Walker is one of 12 Air Force instructors at Lackland being investigated for sexual misconduct toward at least 31 female trainees. Six other instructors have been charged so far with counts raging from adultery to rape, but Walker is the first to stand trial. He also faced the most serious charges and could have received life in prison.
The prosecution said that between October 2010 and January 2011, Walker sexually assaulted at least 10 female recruits. Testimony from all 10 women was included in Walker’s court-martial trial, and five of the women testified at Saturday’s sentencing hearing. One woman said that the assault made it hard for her to trust authority figures while on tour in Afganistan and one woman has left the military. The other four women who testified at the sentencing hearing are still in the military but said they have trouble maintaining relationships or trusting men.
Walker is accused of forcing four of the 10 victims into sexual intercourse. The prosecution also accused Walker of forcing five recruits to engage in sexual acts with him by threatening their careers in the military, and one woman said that she didn’t enjoy being in the military anymore.
The sex scandal involving Air Force instructors allegedly began in 2009, but the first victim didn’t come forward until last year. The victims waited to come forward with their accusations because they were afraid their careers would be destroyed.
Lackland has about 475 instructors for approximately 35,000 graduates every year. About one in five trainees are female, and 90 percent of the instructors are male. The military jury that convicted Walker was made up of six men and one woman.
Walker’s sister, stepfather and wife testified on his behalf at his hearing, and they and Walker asked for leniency and a shorter sentence so that he could spend time with his 4 and 7 year old sons.
Walker said, “I ask for my family’s sake, for my two boys right there. I ask that I am allowed to have a future with them.”