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Air Force instructor sentenced to 20 years in prison for string of sexual assaults

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Staff Sergeant Luis Walker, an instructor in the United States Air Force, was sentenced to 20 years in prison on Saturday. The sentencing hearing was the final phase of his court-martial for the rape of a female recruit and the sexual assault of several others, according to the Associated Press. Walker is one of 12 men named in a sweeping scandal involving instructors and their exploitation and assault of women at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas.

On Friday, a military jury convicted Walker of all 28 counts he was charged with, including rape, aggravated sexual contact and aggravated sexual assault. Prosecutors say that from October 2010 to January of 2011, Walker and his fellow officers assaulted and harassed at least 31 female trainees, with Walker meting out the worst of the abuse.

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Survivors of the assaults testified at Walker’s trial, saying that they had been physically forced or coerced by threats against their military careers into kissing, touching or intercourse with the 12 instructors. One testified that Walker lured her into an office and attacked her, forcing himself upon her against her protestations.

Another of the instructors, Staff Sgt. Peter Vega-Maldonado, was placed on 90 days’ confinement when he pleaded guilty in the case in June, admitting that he had sexual relations with ten different trainees. The case of Staff Sgt. Craig LeBlanc, who has been charged with sexual misconduct, obstruction of justice and making false statements, has been referred to a general court-martial.

Lackland graduates about 35,000 airmen and women each year. They’re put through 8 weeks of basic training by 475 instructors, 90 percent of whom are male.

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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



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Texas governor busted sending racist call-to-arms a day before El Paso attack: ‘take matters into our own hands’

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On Thursday, Gov. Greg Abbott (R-TX) tweeted out a message of unity and promised to work to reduce violence in his state, in the wake of the shooting in El Paso that left 22 dead and dozens more injured:

Today we had hearings responding to the tragic shooting in El Paso.

We focused on community healing, combating domestic terrorism, reducing hateful ideologies, & keeping guns out of hands of deranged killers while respecting 2nd Amendment rights.

We’ll keep TX safe.#txlege pic.twitter.com/ymct4aiSgK

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Facebook bans far-right website from pro-Trump advertising after they try to skirt transparency rules

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On Thursday, NBC News reported that Facebook has banned the Epoch Times from placing political advertisements, after the right-wing website tried to conceal its multimillion-dollar dark money streams and get around the social network's political advertising transparency rules in its propaganda supporting President Donald Trump.

The Epoch Times had tried to skirt rules by running ads under puppet names like "Honest Paper" and "Pure American Journalism," confusing users about who was really behind the ads.

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GOP leaders are pressuring Kansas Republican to resign from Congress immediately: report

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On Thursday, the Topeka Capital-Journal reported that Republicans in Kansas and Washington are pressuring Rep. Steve Watkins (R-KS) to step down after just eight months in office.

It is currently unclear why they are calling for his resignation.

Watkins has thus far given no indications he will leave office. His spokesman Jim Joice stated that he has no plans to resign, and disputed the idea that Republican officials are pressuring him to do so, but acknowledged there have been conversations around the topic.

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