Commander wants outside probe into Lackland sexual misconduct cases

Author: Myra Arthur, Reporter, Anchor, marthur@ksat.com
Published On: Jun 22 2012 05:34:08 PM CDT   Updated On: Jun 22 2012 01:35:11 PM CDT
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LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -

Nearly 500 Air Force trainees graduated as airmen Friday, putting weeks of rigorous training behind them.

But it's not the airmen beaming with pride that have been making recent headlines. Rather, it's been higher-ranking instructors accused of sexual misconduct with trainees.

The commander of the training unit that has that has seen numerous sexual misconduct accusations announced Friday that an outside investigation into the accusations will be conducted.

The probe will be led by Maj. Gen. Margaret Woodward, who is currently acting director of Operational Planning, Policy and Strategy, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, Plans and Requirements, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington D.C.

Staff Sgt. Luis Walker is currently awaiting court martial on 28 charges, including rape and aggravated sexual assault. Walker is also accused of having improper relationships with 10 female basic trainees. Walker faces court martial July 16.

In April, Staff Sgt. Peter Vega-Maldonado was sentenced to 90 days confinement after pleading guilty to sexual conduct with a trainee. After reaching a plea deal, he admitted to having relationships with nine others.

Two other military training instructors, Staff Sgt. Craig LeBlanc and Staff Sgt. Kwinton Estacio, are also charged with sexual misconduct with a trainee.

The Air Force now has its training procedures under the microscope.

"The command is certainly looking very hard at all aspects of basic training, all aspects of policies, and taking appropriate, aggressive actions if necessary," said Col. Polly Kenny, Staff Judge Advocate for 2nd Air Force. "The entire scope of basic military training is under review in one way or another."