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Allegations at Lackland Base carry consequences for accused

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A sex crime conviction, or even just an allegation, can have an utterly devastating effect on an individual's life. A conviction often means prison time, large fines, future sex offender registration and difficulty getting jobs and apartments. Even a mere accusation can cause irreparable damage to reputation. A recent string of disciplinary actions for alleged sex crimes at Lackland Air Force Base may mean all of the above for those accused.

Prosecutors have already investigated more than 12 instructors at Lackland after a number of female recruits came forward with sex crime allegations. They have charged six of these instructors with sex crimes ranging from adultery to rape.

The Austin, Texas, air base is where all new Air Force recruits report for basic training. The most serious allegation at the training base involves a man convicted of raping one female officer and sexually assaulting several others. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

As Congress presses the base leaders for answers, those in charge are apparently looking to place blame elsewhere. The colonel that oversaw Lackland instructors during the time these allegations came to light was recently terminated from his position. A spokeswoman for the Lackland training wing said it was decided the base needed new leadership, but stressed that the ousted colonel did not create the environment that led to the alleged crimes.

The implications of sex crime allegations on these instructors are potentially momentous. The men accused may lose their military status and positions entirely. But it is important to remember that all those accused are presumed innocent until proven guilty. People wrongly accused of sex crimes need to mount an aggressive defense in order to save their reputations and livelihoods.

As mentioned earlier, Congress has taken a strong interest in these allegations, thus highlighting the media's attention to the cases. The effect of these proceedings will likely ripple for years to come.

Source: Your Conroe News, Airforce relieves commander over Lackland sex scandal, Aug. 10, 2012.

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