Newsmonger: Lackland AFB alleged sex scandal victims climbs to 38, Adoption Services Associates investigated by the AG, Frack-study author takes industry money
Published: August 1, 2012
— Darren E. Sherkat, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale professor, speaking to the Chronicle of Higher Education about UT Austin prof Mark Regnerus' highly controversial study challenging the parenting abilities of same-sex couples. Look for a more particular takedown of Regnerus' work by Sherkat in an upcoming issue of the journal Social Science Research. Catch a Q&A with Sherkat later in the week at sacurrent.com .
Lackland AFB alleged sex scandal victims climbs to 38
Commanders last week added three to the list of military training instructors, or MTIs, under investigation for sexual misconduct with trainees at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, bringing the number of instructors investigated for, charged with, or convicted of sexual misconduct ranging from harassment to assault and rape to 15. The number exceeds those tagged during the investigation into the Army's Aberdeen Proving Ground in the 1990s, one of the military's most notorious sex scandals. "Unfortunately, we've always suspected that this was just the tip of the iceberg," said Nancy Parrish, founder of Protect Our Defenders, a group supporting sexual assault victims in the military, in an email last week. Parrish and other advocates have been pushing, so far unsuccessfully, for the House Armed Services Committee to hold public hearings on the scandal. Advocates like Parrish point to Lackland as a symptom of a growing cancer within the military. According to the Pentagon, last year only 15 percent of an estimated 19,000 victims of military sexual assault came forward. "We cannot let the Lackland scandal become yet another asterisk in government's long history of failing to fix our broken military system," Parrish said.
In the first major Lackland case to head to court-martial, last month former trainer Luis A. Walker was sentenced to 20 years in prison after being found guilty on seven charges of misconduct, including rape. While he had faced a maximum of life without parole, he'll instead be eligible for release after serving just six years.
Air Education and Training Command officials would not identify the three new instructors under investigation nor would they give any details of the allegations against them, saying only that the new cases bring the total number of victims in the base's ongoing scandal to 38. Tech. Sgt. Christopher Smith, set to go on trial this week, faces up to a year in jail on charges of sexual contact with trainees and obstruction of justice. Three other trainers are set to face courts-martial in September and October.
Adoption Services Associates investigated by the AG
When Adoption Services Associates suddenly closed its doors this year, families from across the country relying on the San Antonio agency were out the tens of thousands of dollars paid in fees for adoptions that would never pan out. In two lawsuits filed last week against owners Linda M. Zuflacht and husband James M. McMahon Jr., the Texas Attorney General's office claims ASA took thousands from clients without ever revealing it was on the verge of closing, a violation of the Deceptive Trade Practices Act. In operation since 1985, the agency had some 30 or 40 clients from across the country fearing they'd never recoup their money after it closed in early April. Some had waited over a year for a child and already made multiple payments.