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Recruiter court-martial on rape charge set to begin

Jun. 3, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
Tech. Sgt. Jaime Rodriguez
Tech. Sgt. Jaime Rodriguez (File)
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A court-martial will begin today for a recruiter accused of rape, sexual assault, indecent exposure and more than two dozen other counts involving 17 women, most of them Air Force applicants.

The trial for Tech. Sgt. Jaime Rodriguez is set to begin at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas.

Rodriguez worked at a Lake Jackson, Texas, recruiting office south of Houston from August 2008 to November 2011. He was removed from the job after the mother of a 17-year-old recruit told the Lackland recruiting squadron she had discovered sexually explicit text messages and nude photos from Rodriguez on her daughter’s cellphone.

Rodriguez was immediately removed from recruiting duties, the Air Force said, and a yearlong investigation began.

He is accused of raping a recruiter assistant, plus seven other charges and a total of 30 specifications, including forcible sodomy, aggravated sexual contact, indecent conduct, obstruction of justice, making a false official statement and adultery. The charge sheet said Rodriguez allegedly used his position to try to gain sexual favors, lied about sending nude photos of himself and asked others to lie for him.

During a three-day Article 32, or preliminary hearing in January, many of the alleged victims recounted similar stories: Rodriguez at first interacted appropriately with them but then began making sexual comments and, in some cases, sexual advances.

The case against the recruiter is separate from the investigations of military training instructors at Lackland, where 33 MTIs have been accused of misconduct ranging from rape to inappropriate exchanges over Facebook. Of the 20 who have gone through courts-martial, 19 have been convicted.

The court-martial could last more than a week. Rodriguez faces a maximum penalty of life in prison if convicted.

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