At least 31 female trainees have been identified as victims in a widening sex scandal at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, the US Air Force has revealed.
Six of the 12 instructors under investigation for misconduct face charges ranging from rape to adultery. A senior air force commander said nine of those instructors were in the same squadron.
Air Force Staff Sgt Craig LeBlanc, who is charged with aggravated assault and obstruction of justice, allegedly bragged about "getting laid" by a trainee in a supply closet, one of his fellow airmen testified on Thursday.
General Edward Rice, commander of the Air Education and Training Command, said the Air Force believes the misconduct is not endemic to the nine training squadrons. He says the sexual misconduct apparently began in 2009 but that the first woman came forward only a year ago.
Those first allegations were directed against Staff Sgt Luis Walker, who faces the most serious charges and is scheduled to be court-martialled 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.
Most of the instructors under investigation were in the 331st Training Squadron, whose commander was relived from his post last week. Rice said Lt-Col Mike Paquette, who has not been accused of misconduct, was relieved because of the "unacceptable level" of misbehaviour in his unit.