FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 28, 2017
PROTECT OUR DEFENDERS RESPONDS TO SHOCKINGLY LIGHT SENTENCE FOR CONVICTED MILITARY SEX OFFENDER, CALLS FOR LONG OVERDUE SENTENCING REFORMS TO THE MILITARY JUSTICE SYSTEM
Washington, D.C. – The San Antonio Express-News broke a story out of Lackland Air Force Base last weekend that has put the issue of haphazard sentencing for military sexual assault cases in the national headlines. Air Force Tech Sergeant Anthony Lizana was convicted of sexually assaulting a subordinate, dereliction of duty, adultery, and assault consummated by battery.
TSgt Lizana was facing up to 39 years of confinement and despite the prosecutor’s call that he be sentenced to nine years, the military jury only sentenced him to three months of confinement. The charges stem from allegations made by eight women who worked directly for the sergeant. Most of the survivors were young, first-term Airmen right out of high school. The newspaper reported that the “unwanted sexual misconduct [echoed] some of the worst cases that grew out of a scandal at Lackland [Air Force Base]” involving military training instructors.
In 2012, Protect Our Defenders worked with the Express-News and others to expose the Lackland scandal of 60 trainees that were raped, sexually assaulted or subject to other criminal offenses by their instructors. The group launched a campaign demanding public hearings and an investigation into the 2012 scandal. This led to hearings in Congress and bringing the issue of the ongoing military sexual assault crisis into the spotlight.
Col. Don Christensen (ret.), the former Chief Prosecutor of the United State Air Force and President of Protect Our Defenders, released the following statement calling on Congress to enact sentencing reform:
“The slap on the wrist for Sergeant Lizana is what we expect a young Airman to receive for a one-time drug abuse, rather than sexual assault of a subordinate by a superior noncommissioned officer. This case is sadly just one of many other examples of sex offenders sentenced with inappropriately light punishments.
“Protect Our Defenders is calling on Congress to pass much-needed sentencing reform that would ensure survivors will no longer see their attacker escape meaningful punishment. The current sentencing process in the military allows offenders to be sentenced by juries rather than judges and provides no meaningful guidance for crafting an appropriate sentences. As in this case, possible confinement often ranges from no confinement to 30, 40 or 50 years even life leaving the sentence authority to simply guess what is a just sentence. Congress must act to eliminate haphazard sentencing, and create a more modern and effective military justice system.”
Associated Press: Air Force officer’s sexual assault sentence called lenient
San Antonio Express-News: NCO who faced nearly 38 years in sexual misconduct case gets 4 months
Fox News: Air Force technical sergeant dishonorably discharged, sentenced in sexual misconduct case
San Antonio Express-News: Twice Betrayed
About Protect Our Defenders: Protect Our Defenders (POD) is a human rights organization. We are the only national organization solely dedicated to addressing the epidemic of rape and sexual assault in the military and to combating a culture of pervasive sexual harassment and retribution against victims. We honor, support and give voice to survivors of military sexual assault – including both service members and civilians assaulted by members of the military. We seek reform to ensure all survivors have access to a fair, impartially administered system of justice. Learn more about Protect Our Defenders at www.protectourdefenders.com or on Facebook at http://facebook.com/ProtectOurDefenders or follow us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ProtectRDfnders.