Air Force Investigates Growing Sex-Abuse Scandal
The Air Force is investigating a growing sexual-misconduct scandal in its basic-training operations, with a dozen male boot-camp instructors under suspicion of assaulting, harassing or having sex with female recruits.
The case originated with a single complaint filed a year ago by a woman at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. It has snowballed into potentially the worst sex scandal in the U.S. military since 1996, when 12 male soldiers were charged with abusing female recruits and trainees at the Army’s Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland.
The Air Force investigation centers on a unit of boot-camp instructors at Lackland, near San Antonio, where 36,000 recruits undergo basic training each year.
About one-quarter of the instructors in the 331st Training Squadron have either been charged with crimes or are under investigation for sexual misconduct. One trainer has been charged with raping or sexually assaulting 10 recruits.
Senior Air Force officials said they have found problems in other units as well, prompting them to open multiple investigations to determine the extent to which female recruits face harassment and whether the Air Force’s selection process for male instructors is fundamentally flawed.