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Rodriguez Gets 27 Years In Prison, Harshest Sentence Yet In Air Force Sex Scandal

Gateway to the Air Force
Eileen Pace | Texas Public Radio
Texas Public Radio

The eight officers on the all-male jury panel handed Tech. Sgt. Jaime Rodriguez, a recruiter from Lake Jackson, which is near Houston, 27 years in prison – the harshest sentence issued in the sex scandal so far – which was two years longer than what was recommended by prosecutors.

The former military recruiter was also given a dishonorable discharge after his conviction on 29 of 30 charges involving sex crimes against women who came through his office.

Rodriguez was convicted in a jury trial of aggravated sexual assault and sexual assault, and pleaded guilty to 22 counts of pursuing relationships with women and then trying to cover up his actions.

Lt. Col. Mark Hoover with the Judge Advocate General Office at Joint Base San Antonio said the increased sentence was unusual but not surprising.

"Each case comes down to the facts. How egregious do these jury members find these behaviors? He was convicted of sexual assaults against two victims and then he engaged in these unprofessional behaviors with 13 others," Hoover said.

In the last two weeks, the Senate Armed Services Committee took the nation’s military chiefs to task over the way criminal cases are managed after they leave the courtroom. Senators were looking at bills that would remove the power from commanders to reduce a sentence or overturn a conviction.

A military budget bill passed the House with an amendment requiring a report on the efficacy of the 45 fixes recommended by last year’s Command Investigation into the sex scandal at Lackland.

Congressman Joaquín Castro said other cases of sexual misconduct have surfaced in the Army, academies, forward operating bases, and in the Pentagon.

Eileen Pace is a veteran radio and print journalist with a long history of investigative and feature reporting in San Antonio and Houston, earning more than 50 awards for investigative reporting, documentaries, long-form series, features, sports stories, outstanding anchoring and best use of sound.