Following the Pentagon’s announcement that they received thousands of sexual assault reports last year, an Army staff sergeant is being accused of sexually assaulting at least 12 female soldiers since 2011.
Court documents reveal that Staff Sgt. Angel M. Sanchez assaulted at least one woman while he was deployed to Afghanistan and others more recently while he served as a drill sergeant. Sanchez also used his position as a drill sergeant to threaten some of his alleged victims, according to military documents.
Not surprisingly (as it happens often in a society that perpetuates rape culture), Sanchez’s lawyer is questioning the credibility of the victims.
Ernesto Gapasin, Sanchez’s attorney, said in a phone interview that his client was formally notified of the charges by his commanding officer at Fort Leonard Wood on May 13. Several of the women involved in the case testified at the hearing Wednesday, and Gapasin said he had questions about the reliability of some of them.
“In my opinion, there are a lot of issues with the credibility of the witnesses and the government’s case against my client,” he said.
But the incidents, explained in detail in the military documents, are too horrific not to believe.
In one incident that occurred sometime between Sept. 17 and Jan. 31, Sanchez grabbed a female soldier by her hair and forced her to perform oral sex in a women’s bathroom in the barracks at Fort Leonard Wood, military prosecutors allege in the charging documents.
Sanchez allegedly committed several other assaults in that time frame, authorities said, including one in which he placed a female soldier “in fear that she would be kicked out of the U.S. Army if she did not engage in sexual acts” with him, according to charging documents. In that case, he forced her to perform oral sex while in an office he shared with other drill sergeants at Fort Leonard Wood, military officials said.
Sanchez is accused of sexually assaulting four women and assaulting eight others by touching them inappropriately, said Tiffany Wood, a spokeswoman at Fort Leonard Wood.
Sanchez has since been removed from drill-sergeant duty, and currently serves in an office job with his unit. His trial is ongoing.
SOURCE: Washington Post | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty