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Recruiter pleads guilty in sexual misconduct trial

Jun. 7, 2013 - 04:05PM   |  
Rodriguez ()
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A recruiter accused of raping and sodomizing women pleaded guilty June 7 to lesser charges during a court-marital at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland.

But Tech. Sgt. Jaime Rodriguez pleaded not guilty to accusations he raped and sodomized a recruiter assistant and engaged in wrongful sexual contact of a second woman, said base spokesman Brent Boller.

The guilty plea needs to be approved by the military judge assigned to the case, Boller said. Rodriguez pleaded guilty to consensual sodomy, having unprofessional relationships with 13 women, and related charges of obstruction, adultery and giving a false official statement.

He faces up to life in prison if convicted of the rape charge. If the guilty plea is approved, he faces up to 54 years, six months in prison and a reduction to E-1.

Rodriguez worked at a Lake Jackson, Texas, recruiting office south of Houston from August 2008 to November 2011. The Air Force removed him from his job after the mother of a 17-year-old recruit reported she found sexually explicit messages and nude photos from Rodriguez on her daughter’s cellphone. That kicked off a yearlong investigation in which authorities identified 17 alleged victims, most of them Air Force applicants.

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.

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.

Rodriguez’ case appears to be the most serious against a recruiter in at least five years in terms of charges and number of victims.

Thirty-four recruiters were found guilty at courts-martial or disciplined in administrative proceedings between 2008 and 2012, according to information provided by the Air Force.

One other recruiter has been charged with rape in the last five years. The Patrick Air Force Base, Fla., senior airman was acquitted of the charge in November 2010, however, but was found guilty of having sex with the recruit. He was sentenced to reduction to E-1 and hard labor without confinement for three months.

Eight of the 34 cases involved multiple victims. A Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., senior airman was convicted in 2009 of having sex with five applicants, the most specified between 2008 and 2012. He was busted to E-1, confined for eight months and kicked out of the Air Force with a bad conduct discharge.

In another recruiter case, a Moody Air Force Base, Ga., staff sergeant exposed himself to three recruits and asked sexual questions of a fourth. He was sentenced to a year in jail in 2012 and a dishonorable discharge.

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