Sheppard Air Force Base Under Investigation - Newschannel 6 Now | Wichita Falls, TX

Sheppard Air Force Base Under Investigation

Sheppard Air Force Base is one of four Air Force bases being investigated in a growing sexual misconduct scandal. Two-star Maj. Gen. Margaret Woodward is leading a two-month inquiry covering all four Air Force bases that handle basic training; they are located in Texas and Mississippi.

"We have the utmost confidence in our instructors here at Sheppard Air Force Base and we have numerous programs in place and we take sexual assault very seriously in the Air Force so there is a zero tolerance," said Lt. Sara Harper, Deputy Director of Public Affairs at Sheppard.

Officials at Sheppard report no cases of sexual misconduct have been reported at the base.

Allegations of sexual misconduct between instructors and cadets began at Lackland Air Force Base last summer. A dozen instructors at the base in San Antonio are now suspected of assaulting 31 female recruits. Now the Pentagon has ordered a comprehensive strategic review of the entire Air Force training community.

Sheppard was alerted of the investigation on June 22nd; however, they have not received specific information on how or when it will be conducted.

Air Force officials said it's being fully transparent. "I want the public to know what's going on," said Lackland's Col. Glenn Palmer. "I don't want the possibility of someone saying, 'Well look - they're trying to cover it up.'"

Thirty-five military instructors have been removed from their posts since allegations of misconduct began. Four have been accused.

Sgt. Luis Walker, one of the accused instructors of Lackland, has pled not guilty and faces court martial. He is charged with raping or sexually assaulting 10 recruits between October 2010 and January 2011.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced wider plans to deal with the issue.

"We'll  continue to devote our energy and our intention to enforcing our department's zero tolerance policy on sexual assault, and building a zero tolerance culture in the military for sexual assault," said Panetta.

On Capitol Hill, lawmakers such as Rep. Jackie Speier (D., Calif.) want to investigate the matter further with a hearing of their own.

"Congress has known about this problem in the military for 25 years," Rep. Speier said. "We've had lots of hearings, lots of reports. But are we willing to step up and do the right thing by taking it out of the chain of command so the victims really have the freedom to report these crimes and feel that they are not going to be marginalized and labeled and then dismissed from the military?"

Stay with Newschannel 6 as we bring you the latest throughout the entire investigation.

 

Crystal Hall Newschannel 6.

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