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An ex-military training instructor at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland will serve four years in prison and receive a dishonorable discharge for raping a former recruit.
Former Staff Sgt. Eddy Soto is the second MTI convicted of rape in a sexual misconduct scandal that began in the summer of 2011. The first, ex-Staff Sgt. Luis Walker, is serving a 20-year sentence for sexually assaulting or having improper relationships with 10 basic trainees.
Soto pleaded guilty Mach 14 to having sex with a female technical trainee and the wife of a male trainee as well as related charges of adultery and giving a false official statement. He denied the rape charge and asked to be tried by a judge.
Prosecutors said Soto forced himself on a former recruit who had flown to San Antonio from her home in California to meet him in 2011. The woman, who had been under Soto’s charge in 2011, said she told him she was not ready for sex and made that clear before she arrived. The defense argued it was consensual, and pointed out that the woman visited him multiple times after the rape and had continued a sexual relationship with Soto after the incident. Soto and the woman exchanged more than 4,000 text messages and 655 phone calls, according to evidence submitted at trial, the San Antonio Express-News reported.
An expert witness testified the woman’s behavior was consistent with someone who, like the victim, had grown up in Southeast Asia, where teachers are highly regarded and rape victims may be isolated from families and their communities.
Military judge Lt. Col. Matthew Van Dalen sided with the prosecution.
Soto was the 10th MTI to answer to charges since last year. All but one case have ended in a conviction on some or all of the charges; one case was dropped when a judge ruled evidence was obtained without a search warrant. The government has appealed the judge’s ruling.
Two other MTIs have been sentenced to dishonorable discharges, including Walker. Three received bad-conduct discharges. The others were allowed to remain in the service as part of their sentences.
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