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Hearing postponed for recruiter accused of rape

Jan. 10, 2013 - 12:56PM   |   Last Updated: Jan. 10, 2013 - 12:56PM  |  
Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jaime Rodriguez, center, who is accused of rape, forcible sodomy and adultery while assigned to the Lake Jackson recruiting office from August 2008 to November 2011, arrives for an evidentiary hearing at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland on Jan. 8.
Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jaime Rodriguez, center, who is accused of rape, forcible sodomy and adultery while assigned to the Lake Jackson recruiting office from August 2008 to November 2011, arrives for an evidentiary hearing at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland on Jan. 8. (Billy Calzada / San Antonio Express-News)
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An evidentiary hearing of a recruiter accused of raping one woman and pursuing relationships with more than a dozen Air Force applicants was postponed until Friday morning following two days of testimony at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, spokesman Brent Boller said.

Tech. Sgt. Jaime Rodriguez, who worked at a Lake Jackson, Texas, recruiting office south of Houston from August 2008 to November 2011, faces charges of forcible sodomy, aggravated sexual contact, indecent conduct, obstruction of justice, making a false official statement and adultery, in addition to the rape allegation. Rodriguez is accused of using his position to try to gain sexual favors, of lying about sending nude photos of himself and asking others to lie for him, according to the charge sheet.

The investigation into the recruiter began when the mother of a 17-year-old Air Force applicant, called "Female 15" in court documents, allegedly found inappropriate text messages and photos from Rodriguez on her daughter's phone in November 2011. The woman reported her discovery to the recruiting squadron at Lackland.

"Female 15" testified via video on the opening day of the hearing that Rodriguez was professional during the first of what would be hundreds of telephone conversations and text messages between the two, Boller said. But the recruiter soon asked personal and sexual questions and sent the teenager nude and partially nude photos, according to the charge sheet.

Christa D'Andrea, a spokeswoman for Air Force recruiting, said the case against Rodriguez is the most serious involving a recruiter in recent history. It follows a still-unfolding scandal within basic training that has led to charges against 16 military trainers, six of whom have been convicted. A dozen more instructors are still under investigation, and two others have been punished administratively.

Rodriguez was removed from his recruiter duties, forbidden to have contact with Female 15 and assigned to the Army National Guard immediately after the woman's mother made the report, D'Andrea said.

The first two days of the Article 32 hearing included testimony from multiple alleged victims who recounted similar dealings with Rodriguez, Boller said. The witnesses testified that Rodriguez acted properly during initial exchanges but soon made sexual comments and in some cases, sexual advances.

The first witness to testify on day two of the hearing described how Rodriguez became flirtatious, then aggressive, Boller said, asking the woman to go into a back room of the recruiting office to celebrate her scores on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, or ASVAB, test in the summer of 2011. The woman said she told Rodriguez multiple times that his banter made her uncomfortable. She declined his invitation to celebrate.

A second woman, now an airman first class, testified she met Rodriguez at the recruiting office in August 2011. He sent her multiple text messages of a sexual nature, asked her for photos without her clothes on, sent her pictures of his penis and asked her to come by the office once a week, the woman said. During one visit, the woman testified, he locked the door, closed the blinds, hugged and kissed her and put his hands down her pants. She said he also asked her to have sex with him, but she told him she was on her period and couldn't.

Testimony was set to resume this morning but was postponed for 24 hours, Boller said.

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