The US Air Force said that at least 31 female cadets were sexually assaulted by their military instructors, Agence France-Presse reported Friday. General Edward Rice said that the abuses date back to 2009 and are confined to the Lackland Air Force Base near San Antonio, Texas. Further complicating matters is that consensual sexual relationships between instructors and cadets are also banned by the Air Force, as is adultery.
But its not just consensual relationships that are the problem.
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Allegations first came up in October, when a woman came forward to complain that her friend had been victim to "sexual misconduct," the Daily Telegraph reported. In November, three instructors then came forward as well, to express concerns about their colleagues' actions.
Six instructors have now been charged in the growing sex scandal, while more continue to be investigated. In the most serious case, Staff Sgt. Luis Walker is accused of rape and sexual assault, the Telegraph said.
The Air Force brought charges against two more instructors just this week. Master Sgt. Jamey Crawford is accused of giving alcohol to a female trainee and then having sex with her, CNN reported, and Tech. Sgt. Christopher Smith is accused of "seeking to conduct an intimate relationship" with a cadet and having a "personal social relationship" with another. And three of the men have been charged with adultery.
"The basic training environment in particular is a target-rich environment for sexual predators," Anu Bhagwati, a former Marine Corps officer, told CNN.