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Military & Veterans' Issues

Cross-Cultural Expert Brought In For Lackland Court-Martial

Eileen Pace
TPR News

A Lackland judge is hearing the case against a former Air Force instructor accused of rape.

Staff Sgt. Eddy Soto, formerly with the 323rd Training Squadron, pleaded guilty to five of the charges against him, including sexual assault, wrongful sexual contact, lying to officials, and having unprofessional relationships with trainees.

Soto’s court-martial opened in January with a request from the government to postpone the proceedings so it could bring in a cross-cultural expert. 

When the trial resumed this week, Dr. Rita Chung, a professor at George Mason University, and an expert in Asian cross-cultural psychology, told the court that women in the Southeast Asian culture are taught to hold men – especially those in authority – in high esteem and to treat them with loyalty.

Chung indicated it would be reasonable to conclude that the woman consented to sex because she felt forced to do so by her culture.

Though Soto pleaded guilty on five of the charges, he pleaded not guilty to the charge of rape.

Joint Base San Antonio spokesman Brent Boller said even if Soto is acquitted of the rape charge, he could face a stiff sentence on the other charges. 

"It could be eleven years confinement, a dishonorable discharge, reduction to the lowest enlisted rank and total forfeiture of all pay and allowances," Boller said. "Now, if convicted on the rape charge, that carries a potential life sentence."

This is the eleventh courts-martial in the broad Air Force investigation of sexual misconduct among instructors at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland. So far nine MTIs have been convicted in the investigation that has named 32 cases involving 62 alleged victims.