An Air Force recruiter who was charged with sexual offenses with women who entered his Houston area recruiting station was sentenced today to the longest prison term yet in the sex scandal which has prompted calls in Congress for major changes in military operations.
Brent Boller, a spokesman for Lackland Air Force Base, where the court martial of Tech. Sgt. Jaime Rodriguez took place, says a military jury sentenced Rodriguez to 27 years in prison.
"In addition, he received a dishonorable discharge, and a reduction in rank to the lowest rank in the Air Force, Airman Basic," Boller said.
Rodriguez pled guilty to engaging in or attempting to engage in unprofessional relationship, as well as adultery, which is a felony under the Uniform Code of Miltiary Justice.
Boller says the jury convicted Rodriguez of aggravated sexual assault, abusive sexual contact, indecent exposure.
He could have gotten 116 years in prison, but Boller says the 27 year sentence was a surprise.
"Interestingly, the prosecution had asked for 25 years confinement, but the jury came back with 27 years."
Rodriguez was a recruiter and not an Air Force Basic Training Instructor, but his case was included in a sweeping sex with recruits scandal which has prompted several Congressional hearings, has led to major changes in the way young men and women receive basic training in the Air Force, and has left the top commanders of all the miltiary forces in the Congressional spotlight over their handling of sexual predators in their ranks.
21 Air Force basic training sergeants have faced courts martial for charges ranging from having inappropriate sexual relations with female recruits to rape. One of the sergeants who was convicted was a woman who was charged with having inappropriate relationships with male recruits.
While the basic training instructors offenses involved active duty Air Force members, Rodriguez was convicted of preying on civilian women who entered his recruiting station to inquire about joining the military.