An Army drill sergeant has been charged with sexually attacking 12 female soldiers, threatening to have some of them kicked out of the service if they rebuffed him, court documents show.
Staff Sgt. Angel Sanchez allegedly preyed on the women while stationed in Afghanistan until 2012 and then at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri.
A two-day pre-trial hearing was held this week to determine if Sanchez, who was removed from his drill sergeant duties and transferred to a desk job, will be court-martialed, base spokeswoman Tiffany Wood said.
Sanchez's defense lawyer told The Associated Press that he has "serious questions about the credibility of the witnesses making these accusations."
A military charge sheet lays out the allegations in graphic detail, alleging that Sanchez preyed on women in barracks latrines, a stairwell, a closet, a guard tower, and his office — brutally forcing oral sex on some and groping others.
In several of the cases, Sanchez made the victim "fear that she would be kicked out of the Army if she did not comply," the charge sheet says.
He is also accused of sexually harassing the women under him, telling one gay soldier, "Have you ever had sex with a male? I can change that" and assuring another servicemember, "I know you guys are married but it's OK if you have a deployment buddy."
Sanchez was charged May 13, two days before the Pentagon released a report that revealed it received 1,400 reports of sexual harassment last year and substantiated more than half of them.
Those numbers were actually dwarfed by reports of sexual assaults. The Pentagon said there were more than 5,000 of those in 2013, a 50 percent increase over the previous year.
— Tracy Connor and Jim Miklaszewski