Air Force Staff Sergeant Sentenced in Sex Abuse Case
Air Force Staff Sergeant Luis Walker was found guilty of 28 rape and sexual assault charges by a military jury Friday and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Walker was convicted of sexually abusing 10 women Air Force trainees. In addition to the prison sentence, Walker will also be demoted to the lowest Air Force Rank, be dishonerably discharged, must forfeit pay, and is required to register as a sex offender.
Five women Walker assaulted spoke during sentencing. One woman, who was assaulted by Walker in 2011 at Lackland, testified that "In Afghanistan, I was a little bit more scared of everything...I couldn't work with certain individuals, just since they remind me of Staff Sgt. Walker, reported the Associated Press. " Another woman testified that she couldn't sleep at night as a result of the assault. She also stated that "It's gotten to where I had anger issues even at work...If anyone makes even the slightest sexual reference, I go off. I have zero self-control."
The Walker case is the first to come to trial in the Lackland Air Force Base sex scandal. Thus far, 12 instructors at Lackland are being formally investigated and at least 31 victims have come forward.
Air Force Colonel Polly Kenny, who led the prosecution, told Reuters, "We are very concerned about the public perception that basic training is not a safe place to be. Our entire goal is to make it safe and secure. We are going to continue to take serious action against anyone who is shown to have violated the rules we have in place to protect the trainees."
A 2012 Pentagon report found that 3,192 cases of sexual assault were reported within the U.S. military in 2012, which is a 1 percent increase from 2010. However, according to the Defense Department, only an estimated 15 percent of actual incidents are reported, which brings the estimated number up to 19,000 assaults each year. Currently, reports of sexual assault are handled within the military's chain of command.
8/31/2015 Chicago Activists Continue Hunger Strike to Save Predominately Black Public High School - Chicago residents have entered the second week of their hunger strike protesting the closure of Dyett High School, in the predominately African-American Bronzeville neighborhood located on the South Side of Chicago.
Parents and community members are calling on the Chicago Board of Education to keep Dyett - the only open-enrollment, neighborhood school in its area - open and accept a community plan to revitalize the school with a focus on science and green technology. . . .
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .