Staff Sgt. Annamarie Ellis arrives for her trial on charges of maltraining and maltreating basic trainees. (Jerry Lara/San Antonio Express-News)
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A former military training instructor who admitted to mistreating trainees has been sentenced to eight months in prison, reduction to E-1 and a bad conduct discharge.
Air Force Staff Sgt. Annamarie Ellis pleaded guilty this week to 24 specifications of maltreatment of trainees, dereliction of duty and obstruction of justice while assigned to the 323rd Training Squadron in 2009 and 2010. She faced a maximum penalty of more than 43 years in prison, a sentence a military law expert said was highly unlikely.
Ellis chose to have her case decided by a judge rather than a jury. Col. Donald Eller handed down the sentence late Friday at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, said a base spokeswoman, 1st Lt. Samantha Degnan.
Former trainees called by the prosecution spent two days detailing abuses they said they endured under Ellis, the San Antonio Express-News reported. Ellis threatened to beat up trainees, send them home in body bags, cut off a trainee’s testicles and shove a guidon up one recruit’s urethra, according to the newspaper’s account. She ordered trainees to work out naked and instigated a fight between two trainees that left one with a black eye, and then told them to lie about how it happened.
The allegations against Ellis surfaced during a sweeping investigation of basic training in 2011 and 2012 that has resulted in two dozen courts-martial of former MTIs on sexual misconduct charges.
Ellis was not charged with any sexual offenses.
She was the second instructor court-martialed for treatment of trainees in a year. In April 2013, then Tech. Sgt. Bobby Bass was sentenced to six months in prison after he was convicted of 31 counts of cruelty, assault, dereliction, failure to obey a lawful command and wrongful sexual contact. Bass physically abused trainees, ordered them to strip naked and enter a shower and to apply muscle cream on their genitals as punishment.
Bass was reduced by only one rank for his crimes and, unlike Ellis, he was spared a discharge at sentencing.