Air Force investigates growing sex-abuse scandal

Posted June 28, 2012, at 8:56 p.m.

WASHINGTON — The Air Force is investigating a growing sexual-misconduct scandal in its basic-training operations, with a dozen male boot-camp instructors under suspicion of assaulting, harassing or having sex with female recruits.

The case originated with a single complaint filed a year ago by a woman at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. It has snowballed into potentially the worst sex scandal in the U.S. military since 1996, when 12 male soldiers were charged with abusing female recruits and trainees at the Army’s Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland.

The Air Force investigation centers on a unit of boot-camp instructors at Lackland, near San Antonio, where 36,000 recruits undergo basic training each year.

About one-quarter of the instructors in the 331st Training Squadron have either been charged with crimes or are under investigation for sexual misconduct. One trainer has been charged with raping or sexually assaulting 10 recruits.

Senior Air Force officials said they have found problems in other units as well, prompting them to open multiple investigations to determine the extent to which female recruits face harassment and whether the Air Force’s selection process for male instructors is fundamentally flawed.

Saturn moon Titan may harbor ocean below surface

LOS ANGELES — Scientists reported Thursday on the strongest sign yet that Saturn’s giant moon may have a salty ocean beneath its chilly surface.

If confirmed, it would catapult Titan into an elite class of solar system moons harboring water, an essential ingredient for life.

Titan boasts methane-filled seas at the poles and a possible lake near the equator. And it’s long been speculated that Titan contains a hidden liquid layer, based on mathematical modeling and electric field measurements made by the Huygens spacecraft that landed on the surface in 2005.

The latest evidence is still indirect, but outside scientists said it’s probably the best that can be obtained short of sending a spacecraft to drill into the surface — a costly endeavor that won’t happen anytime soon.

The research looks convincing, said Gabriel Tobie of France’s University of Nantes.

“If the analysis is correct, this is a very important finding,” Tobie said in an email.

The finding by an international team of researchers was released online Thursday by the journal Science.

UK won’t extradite man accused of rape to Minn.

MINNEAPOLIS — As prosecutors in Minnesota began preparing to file charges against a man accused of molesting two girls and raping a third in the 1990s, the suspect fled the United States, eventually winding up in London, where authorities caught up to him two years ago.

Minnesota prosecutors’ efforts to bring Shawn Sullivan back to face trial for his alleged crimes were thwarted Thursday when Britain’s High Court dropped extradition proceedings, saying the U.S. hadn’t guaranteed Sullivan would be kept out of a civil commitment program seen by some as draconian.

Judges Alan Moses and David Eady said in a ruling finalized Thursday that if Sullivan, 43, were returned to the U.S., he could face a real risk of being placed in the state’s civil commitment program and would suffer “a flagrant denial of his rights.”

One of Sullivan’s accusers called the decision “a slap in the face.”

UN court acquits Karadzic of 1 genocide count

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The Yugoslav war crimes tribunal acquitted former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic of one charge of genocide Thursday but upheld 10 other war crimes counts related to atrocities in Bosnia’s bloody war.

The 10 pending charges against Karadzic include another genocide count covering his alleged involvement in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and boys.

The charge that was dismissed Thursday covered the mass killings, expulsions and persecution by Serb forces of Muslims and Croats from Bosnian towns early in the country’s 1992-95 war, which left 100,000 dead. Presiding Judge Oh-Gon Kwon said prosecutors did not provide enough evidence to “be capable of supporting a conviction of genocide in the (Bosnian) municipalities.”

At the halfway stage of Karazdic’s long-running trial, judges said there was enough evidence to uphold charges including murder and persecution in the early stages of the war, but the killings did not rise to the level of genocide, which requires prosecutors to prove intent to wipe out a specific group in whole or part.

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