Sex scandal investigation brings changes to base

Conviction of Lackland instructor not likely to affect other cases

By Myra Arthur - Anchor/Reporter

LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, Texas - It is not what you might expect to hear -- the conviction of Air Force training instructor Staff Sgt. Luis Walker being called a "positive."

"It is felt as a positive step in the right direction that we're actually getting to the point where we're able to prosecute those who have been under investigation for some time," said Col. Polly Kenny, staff judge advocate with the 2nd Air Force.

A military panel convicted Walker on Friday on several charges, including rape and aggravated sexual assault.

Kenny says the 20-year sentence handed down to Walker on Saturday will not directly affect the handling of the 11 other cases of training instructors allegedly having inappropriate relationships with trainees.

But the far-reaching sex scandal is helping bring about changes on base as the Air Force tries to create a sense of empowerment and willingness to report misconduct.

Some of those changes "include placement of comment boxes and increased senior leadership interaction with the trainees," Kenny detailed.

The investigation into what allowed those instructors to allegedly cross the line is still ongoing, but so far, Kenny says it appears there is not one outstanding factor that has been pinpointed.

"There is no indication that we've got some big, gaping hole that needs to be fixed immediately," she said.

Staff Sgt. Peter Vega-Maldonado previously pleaded guilty to having an inappropriate relationship with a trainee. He was sentenced to 90 days confinement.

With two instructors now convicted, another four will soon head to court. Six instructors remain under investigation.

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