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.
10/30/2014 Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Oklahoma Court Ruling - An Oklahoma state district court judge has refused to block a state law restricting medication abortion, clearing the way for the law to go into affect on November 1.
The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, together with a local abortion clinic in Tulsa, challenged HB 2684 in September, arguing that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on non-surgical abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. . . .
10/30/2014 UPS Switches Pregnant Worker Policy Ahead of Supreme Court Case - The United Parcel Service (UPS) is changing its policy on light duty assignments for pregnant workers, even though the company will stand by its refusal to extend accommodations to a former employee in an upcoming Supreme Court case.
UPS announced on Monday in a memo to employees, and in a brief filed with the US Supreme Court, that the company will begin offering temporary, light-duty positions to pregnant workers on January 1, 2015. . . .
10/30/2014 North Dakota Medical Students Speak Out Against Measure 1 - Medical students at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences are asking North Dakotans to vote no on Measure 1, a personhood measure on the state ballot this fall.
The students issued published a letter in the Grand Forks Herald stating that they opposed Measure 1 in part because they are against "the government's taking control of the personal health care decisions of its citizens." Nearly 60 UND School of Medicine students signed the letter, citing concerns over the "very broad and ambiguous language" used in the proposed amendment, which has no regard for serious and life-threatening medical situations such as ectopic pregnancies.
Measure 1 would change the North Dakota state constitution to create an "inalienable right to life" for humans "at any stage of development" - including the moment of fertilization and conception. . . .