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Sergeant in Air Force sex scandal busted a rank, fined, jailed

By Karen Nelson

The Sun Herald

LAST UPDATED: 04:39 a.m. HST, Apr 25, 2013

BILOXI, Miss. » Tech. Sgt. Bobby Bass sat in silence for a few seconds then glanced at his wife, who was in tears, as the jury read his sentence — six months in a military jail, the loss of one rank and his pay docked $1,000 a month for three months.

Bass avoided a dishonorable discharge Wednesday at his court-martial for abuse, assault and cruelty as an Air Force basic training instructor at Lackland Air Force Base in 2009.

The same jury convicted him Tuesday on 31 of 35 counts that included abusive sexual contact for ordering two young trainees to put Icy Hot on their genitals.

The jury deliberated for 4 1/2 hours before deciding his fate in a case that is connected with the 2012 sex scandal at Lackland AFB in San Antonio, Texas, where the Air Force conducts its basic training. In that scandal, most of the cases were male instructors and female trainees. With Bass’, the trainees were all male.

The senior defense attorney for Bass, Capt. Antoinette Quinn, said she didn’t believe he should go to jail at all, but that avoiding a dishonorable discharge “could be considered a win.”

Col. Polly Kenny, who has handled the media coverage of the Lackland sex scandal, said there is “no winner in a situation such as this,” but said she felt the jury did its job.

Based on the charges he was convicted of, Bass faced up to 33 years in prison. The prosecution asked for at least two.

In order to get a sentence, six of the eight jurors had to concur. The jury interrupted sentencing deliberations Wednesday morning to express a concern that Bass would be required to register as a sex offender.

But an official with local law enforcement who deals with sex offender registration in Mississippi told the Sun Herald that Bass would only have to if the court-martial specifically required him to do so as part of his sentence.

Bass’ court-martial was held at Keesler AFB because that’s where he is stationed. It is the only Lackland scandal trial that has been held somewhere other than Lackland.

Lt. Victoria Porto, a spokeswoman for Keesler AFB, said Bass would begin his sentence at Keesler. The Air Force corrections system would determine if he is to be transferred to another military jail.

She said that at the completion of his sentence, he is expected to return to duty at Keesler, where they “may or may not initiate administrative discharge based upon his court-martial conviction.”

During the weeklong trial, 14 trainees from one of Bass’ basic training groups testified that 50 to 60 trainees were ordered to strip naked and crowd into a shower stall meant for 12, vote out one of their own who had complained of mistreatment and mock their trainee leaders doing push-ups in their underwear. One was ordered to shave his body hair in front of other trainees and others told of being slammed or kicked.

Bass was found guilty of all 11 counts of dereliction of duty and failure to obey a lawful order, 13 of 16 counts of cruelty and maltreatment, both counts of abusive sexual contact and all four counts of assault in connection with his time at Lackland. He was convicted of one count of having an unprofessional relationship with a man under his supervision while deployed overseas in 2007.

For his court-martial, Bass chose to have a jury mix of officers and enlisted and chose the option of having the jury decide his sentence.

After screening by the prosecution and defense, the jury was made up of two officers and six enlisted men and women.

His defense team included two members of Keesler’s Area Defense Counsel, Capt. Rachel Van Maasdam and Capt. David Cromwell.

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MANDA wrote:
another "boys will be boys" sentence. 6 months? no respect for the humanity of those abused by this sadist.
on April 25,2013 | 06:36AM
BRock wrote:
A jury that heard the evidence, unlike you, deliberated and made a decision.
on April 25,2013 | 07:18AM
koolau wrote:
The question should be, what kind of people made up this jury? On the surface, this guy got away easy!
on April 25,2013 | 07:51AM
loquaciousone wrote:
I bet in this court, you get only one year in jail for murder.
on April 25,2013 | 07:21AM
cojef wrote:
Plus, put in the required years of service and be eligible for retirement and health benefits. Lucky guy, cuz he could have been drummed out of the service. With a female in charge at the Air Force Academy, changes should occur for female cadets, which is long time coming.
on April 25,2013 | 07:41AM
Anonymous wrote:
Its questionable whether he changes. Could the AF saw a problem with this guy ?? Why the transfer to a base without trainees ?? What was his annual evaluation prior to the charges being pressed ?? What were his supr(s) and official(s) doing during the last several years with his performance ??????
on April 25,2013 | 08:02AM
LMO wrote:
And, because this was a military court marshal, when he gets out of the military he will essentially have no civilian record. What a dirt bag, and he will end up with no consequence.
on April 25,2013 | 08:30AM
nodaddynotthebelt wrote:
Major changes should be made to the system. Any and all felony should be handled by the federal court and not by the military. The archaic system in place had its purpose many, many years ago. Today, we have the means to prosecute those in the military for committing crimes.
on April 25,2013 | 08:51AM
residenttaxpayer wrote:
Amazing that he didn't receive a dishonorable discharge and a lengthy prison sentence.....
on April 25,2013 | 09:21AM
Bully wrote:
What about his supervisor? dont tell me he didn't know about it. He should be dishonorablly discharged to show that the behavior will not be tolerated.
on April 25,2013 | 09:38AM
Hotel wrote:
I got punched out at Lackland AFB in 1964 because the Dorm Chief was responsible for a recruit having a tobacco flake in his footlocker. No big deal. The instructor was just trying to make a point.
on April 25,2013 | 12:41PM
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