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Congresswomen look at Air Force scandal

Oct. 3, 2012 at 4:49 PM

SAN ANTONIO, Oct. 3 (UPI) -- Sexual exploitation at a Texas military base went on for so long because of a culture that punished whistle-blowers, three congresswomen say.

Reps. Susan Davis, Loretta Sanchez and Jackie Speier, all California Democrats, toured Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland Tuesday, the San Antonio Express-News reported. Sanchez said people at Lackland "knew what was going on" but distrusted what they had seen because of their close ties to the perpetrators.

"You know, that's human nature to not want to believe that these things are going on," she added. "And then to break that bond, to break that family bond, to break that and to say it's so bad I have to go and tell somebody about it."

Staff Sgt. Craig LaBlanc is scheduled to go on trial Tuesday for allegedly having sex with a woman in basic training. The Air Force said 19 instructors at Lackland have been or are being investigated.

Military officials said 44 victims have been identified. Eleven are believed to have been sexually assaulted, 24 were in unprofessional sexual relationships and nine in unprofessional relationships that did not involve sex.

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