SAN ANTONIO — A former Air Force basic training instructor who was found guilty of rape and other sexual misconduct charges two years ago at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland died Sunday after hanging himself in his prison cell, Air Force officials said.
Airman Basic Luis Walker, 28, was found in his cell Saturday at the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks on Fort Leavenworth, Kan. He died the next day.
The Disciplinary Barracks did not respond to emails or phone calls, but the Air Education and Training Command said Tuesday it had been notified of his death.
“We are aware of Airman Basic Walker's passing and our thoughts are with the Walker family during this difficult time,” said Col. Sean McKenna, a training command spokesman.
Walker was a key figure in a basic training scandal at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, where 35 instructors have been investigated for misconduct with 69 recruits and technical school students.
Walker was given 20 years in prison, the second-longest sentence handed down in 29 trials so far at Lackland, for a long list of crimes involving female recruits he was charged with training. He was busted to airman basic and labeled a sexual predator by prosecutors.
A staff sergeant, Walker had illicit relationships with 10 women in basic training and some in units he oversaw. Some witnesses described him as sadistic and manipulative, an instructor who used his power to obtain sexual favors from recruits.
A jury handed down the sentence July 21, 2012 after finding him guilty of seven charges and 28 specifications of misconduct, including rape. He could have been given up to 40 years in prison.
His role in the scandal helped drive a training command investigation. The probe found a broken command culture and a gap in leadership that contributed to the sexual-assault scandal. It said leaders were insulated from training and that barriers “at nearly every level” limited the flow of information about instructor misconduct.