A military judge Wednesday sentenced a former Fort Leonard Wood drill sergeant to 20 years in prison after he was found guilty of sexually assaulting and harassing multiple female soldiers.

A military judge Wednesday sentenced a former Fort Leonard Wood drill sergeant to 20 years in prison after he was found guilty of sexually assaulting and harassing multiple female soldiers.

Judge Col. Jeffery Nance, who presided over the three day court-martial, found Army Staff Sgt. Angel M. Sanchez, 30, guilty of all three charges and 18 of 27 specifications involving sexual misconduct with several female soldiers for incidents in Fort Leonard Wood, Fort Richardson, Alaska, and Afghanistan.

The incidents at Fort Leonard Wood occurred during Advanced Individual Training (AIT) between September 2013 and January 2014.

In addition to 20 years confinement, Sanchez will be dishonorably discharged from the U.S. Army.

Maj. Gen. Leslie Smith, commanding general of Fort Leonard Wood, has to approve Sanchez’s sentencing before it is official. Smith did not make an appearance during the court martial.

The prosecutor asked to sentence Sanchez to 25 years in prison. The defense asked for no more than eight years in prison.

Sanchez chose not to testify before the verdict. However, after he was found guilty of sexually assaulting eight female soldiers, the married former drill sergeant with two daughters turned to the standing-room-only crowd and apologized for his actions.

“I would like to apologize to the victims,” he said. “I hope you will be able to forgive me one day. To everyone I let down, my wife, the Army, my grandmother, my NCOs (non-commissioned officers), I am beyond sorry. I take full responsibility for my actions. I don’t want to make excuses because that would be insulting.”

“To my daughters, daddy loves you and I will see you again soon.”

Damage done

Five of the victims testified againWednesday after the judge reached his verdict as a part of Sanchez's sentencing.

A specialist who is currently serving in Afghanistan broke down as she told the court how she struggles with trusting her superiors in the Army after Sanchez assaulted her while she was in basic training.

“The biggest issue is trust now,” she said. “I have issues trusting those who are in charge of me.”

She said that other higher-ranking officers, including her lieutenant colonel at the time of the assault, discouraged victims in their military police company from making allegations regarding sexual assault.

“I feel like the Army has failed us,” the female soldier said on the stand.

Tuesday, a Maryland National Guardsman made similar allegations about the 14th Military Police Brigade. She said Command Sgt. Maj. Scott Dooley told the company of trainees in January 2014 that if any other SHARP (Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention) cases came forward, no one in the company would graduate.

Further testimonies made it clear that Sanchez's actions with trainees are still haunting soldiers training at the 14th Military Police Brigade.

A female drill sergeant who trained privates at E Company alongside Sanchez last year, delivered a tear-filled testimony on Wednesday. Last year, Sanchez sexually harassed and assaulted her, too.

“I felt like I was to blame for all of this,” she said. “I feel like I could have stopped it. Those female soldiers looked up to me  — I was supposed to be that strong female role model to show them what right looks like. That’s what drill sergeants do.”

The female drill sergeant, dressed in her decorated Army Service Uniform, then broke into tears in front of the court.

“I enabled an experience that was so horrible [for trainees] that I don’t want to be in the Army anymore,” she said. “I’m done.”

She then told the court that ever since she found out about other victims who Sanchez had assaulted, she had a hard time doing her job.

“I am ineffective as a leader, a soldier and a drill sergeant,” she cried. “I am done. I can’t do this anymore.”

Staff Sgt. Jesus Cabrera, an E Company drill sergeant, said that Sanchez’s actions has given their company a “stigma” and demolished the drill sergeant-trainee system in their company. The trainees no longer felt like they had to respect their drill sergeants after the incidents, he said.

“The ability to do our job was taken away from us,” Cabrera said. “Standards and discipline were out the window [after accusations about Sanchez assaulting privates in the unit were made]. Privates are less receptive.”

One of the five victims who testified again Wednesday before Sanchez was sentenced faced her former drill sergeant when she was on the stand.

“I don’t trust any non-commissioned officers anymore,” she said directly to Sanchez. “You were a role model to me. You really knew your stuff and I looked up to you. Other people looked up to you. You destroyed that. You destroyed our company.”

Verdict details

Sanchez was found not guilty of forcing an Army medic to have sex with him while they were both deployed in Afghanistan. The judge found Sanchez not guilty of nine of the 27 charges filed against him.

Nance reached his decision roughly an hour and a half after both sides made closing arguments and rested their cases.

“A wolf among sheep”

In closing arguments, prosecutor Stephen Altizer said multiple testimonies revealed Sanchez used his power as a drill sergeant to manipulate and isolate soldiers to gain sexual favors from subordinates.

“Drill sergeants have total control and authority over privates,” he said. “Drill sergeants control when privates eat, sleep and train. They are merely sheep being directed.”

Altizer described Sanchez as “a wolf among sheep” with the privates as he used is power corruptly to sexually assault junior soldiers.

“He put on the drill sergeant hat and he changed,” Altizer told the judge. “He knew what he could get away with. He used his power to isolate his subordinates to get sexual pleasure.”

He reminded the court of multiple female soldiers who told the court that Sanchez touched them inappropriately and made multiple offensive comments like “show me your butt,” “show me your breasts,” “take your pants off” and “don’t be a whore” while he was their superior.

“Sanchez is a predator who used authority to sexually assault and harass females he had authority over,” Altizer concluded.

Consent contested

Defense attorney Ernesto Gapasin argued that Sanchez is “too immature to fill his role as drill sergeant.” He said Sanchez is a “jokester” and some of the comments he made toward women in his charge were “in bad humor” but not harassment or maltreatment.

Gapasin argued that the sexual acts between Sanchez and the young soldiers were consensual because some of the accusations involved the privates performing oral sex on Sanchez.

“Consent is inherent in the act of oral sex,” he said. “The nature of the sexual activity in this case is oral sex. Oral sex exhibits some sort of consent.”

Prosecutors disagreed.

“These were privates. They couldn’t say no to their drill sergeant,” Altizer said. “When a drill sergeant pulls a trainee to her knees, grabs her by the hair, and tells her [to perform oral sex on him] with no options and no where to go, is it consensual?”