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A military training instructor ordered recruits to fill canteens with toilet water, refused them access to the latrine and sent female basic training graduates nude photos of himself after befriending them on Facebook, multiple witnesses testified during a hearing Monday at Joint Base San Antonio, Lackland, Texas.
Staff Sgt. Ryan J. Deraas is accused of having unprofessional relationships with five technical training students, willful dereliction of duty by maltreating recruits and assault and battery on two basic trainees, according to a base news release. An article in Monday's edition of the San Antonio Express-News detailed the testimony of six of Deraas' alleged victims during the first day of his evidentiary hearing, known in the military as an Article 32 hearing.
Four women testified that Deraas became friendly with them on Facebook. He sent flattering, then sexual, messages; one of the four said she and Deraas had a sexual relationship that lasted for weeks while she was in technical training, the newspaper reported.
Deraas ordered recruits to fill canteens with toilet water within the first hours of training in December 2010. He allegedly refused to allow them to use the toilet after one recruit forgot his father's phone number while filling out a required form. When two trainees tried to relieve themselves anyway, Deraas pulled them from the latrine, the paper reported the witnesses as saying.
Deraas is the 12th MTI named in an ongoing basic training scandal that began with an accusation of sexual assault in the summer of 2011. Since then, 28 instructors have been accused of misconduct ranging from unprofessional relationships without physical contact to rape, the vice commander of the 2nd Air Force, which oversees training, said Tuesday at a Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services meeting in Arlington, Va.
Col. Andrew Cain briefed the group on the findings of an independent investigation into BMT released last month. He said the Air Force has identified 54 victims or possible victims so far, more than half of whom were in technical training when the alleged misconduct occurred. Two dozen were still in basic; one was a post-technical training student, Cain said.
Thirteen are victims or alleged victims of a sexual assault, the vice commander said. Six of those were attacked by one trainer, ex-Staff Sgt. Luis Walker, now serving a 20-year sentence for his crimes.
Cain also outlined changes underway at basic, which include removing utility closet doors, adding three additional sexual assault response coordinators, stricter control of keys, no-notice checks on trainers and increased staffing. When asked whether MTI duty, traditionally a difficult assignment to fill, could become mandatory, Cain said, "All options are on the table. But they will get the numbers."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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