Air Force Gen. Edward Rice confirmed during a Pentagon briefing that 31 women have allegedly been victims of sexual assault by their Air Force instructors at Lackland Air Base in Texas. The abuse reportedly took place over a two-year period beginning in 2009.
Rice, who is the commander of the Air Education and Training Command, said that a dozen male instructors are under investigation, and that nine of them are from the 3-31st Training Squadron. The squadron’s commander, Lt. Col. Mike Paquette, was relieved of duty pending investigation.
The Air Force was made aware of the alleged incidents in June 2011, when the first accuser came forward, with 12 cases unfolding since.
The first allegations were levied against Staff Sgt. Luis Walker, who faces the most serious charges and is scheduled to be court-martialed next month. Walker is charged with 28 counts, including rape, aggravated sexual contact and multiple counts of aggravated sexual assault. He has not yet entered a plea.