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Military & Veterans' Issues

LeBlanc Defense Raises Issue Of 'Unlawful Command Influence'

Eileen Pace

Defense attorneys in the latest court-martial of a Lackland instructor have asked for the testimony of the Commander of the 502d Air Base Wing.

The defense motion has brought to the surface the issue of "Unlawful Command Influence" and how it might affect the remaining cases.

Attorneys for Staff Sgt Craig LeBlanc Monday filed a motion to dismiss his case, or to remove Gen. Theresa Carter from any post-trial activity. As commander of the 502d Air Base Wing, Carter is the first level of appeal, and can approve a punishment, issue lesser punishment, or throw out a case altogether.

LeBlanc is accused, among other charges, of sexual assault and sexual violations with three female trainees.

Defense Attorney Joseph Jordan wanted Gen. Carter to testify in the court-martial to determine whether she would be influenced by Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh’s testimony to Congress in January.

"His comments were that if you’re having an unprofessional relationship with trainees, then you should be kicked out of the Air Force. So we filed an Unlawful Command Influence motion based on those comments," Jordan said.

Gen. Carter filed an affidavit in the case, stating that she had not read media reports of the congressional hearing last month, nor had she watched the hearing.

The defense motion was denied, but the military judge did allow the defense team to interview Gen. Carter by phone Monday afternoon. The results of that conversation were  expected to be addressed when the court-martial resumes.

This is the eighth court-martial in the ongoing Air Force investigation; there are 10 courts-marital pending and 13 cases still being investigated.