Tech Sgt. Marc Gayden (File)
A military jury in the rape trial of an elite military training instructor at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland cleared him of all charges late Friday.
Tech. Sgt. Marc Gayden, an 11-year Air Force veteran, had faced up to life in prison if convicted.
A former basic trainee identified as Airman 1 alleged Gayden had acted inappropriately with her twice — trying to hug and kiss her on one occasion and slapping her on the buttocks on another — when she found herself alone with him on Christmas Eve 2010.
Airman 1 said she had stayed behind in the dorm because of an ankle injury. In Gayden’s office, the woman said the instructor tried to kiss her again, forced his hand down her pants, digitally penetrated her and forced her to perform oral sex.
Gayden, who was once a master military training instructor, or “blue rope,” denied the charges. His defense pointed out Airman 1 waited more than two years to report the alleged crime and did so only after investigators sought her out. The defense suggested she made the story up in order to help repair her ailing marriage, the San Antonio Express-News reported.
Gayden, like all MTIs who come under investigation, was temporarily removed from MTI duties pending the outcome of the case.
The jury of officers and non-commissioned officers returned a verdict of not guilty on the three charges Gayden faced — rape, forcible sodomy and trying to form an inappropriate relationship, said Oscar Balladares, a Lackland spokesman.
The trial lasted four days.
Gayden was the 25th MTI court-martialed in a sexual misconduct scandal at basic training in the last year and a half. He is the first to be cleared of all charges. Some of the instructors convicted at courts-martial were found guilty on lesser charges, however.