SAN ANTONIO, July 21 - A drill instructor accused of raping and sexually assaulting 10 female trainees at Lackland Air Force Base was sentenced on Saturday to 20 years in prison, the stiffest jail term handed down yet in the biggest sex scandal to hit the US military since the 1990s.

Staff Sergeant Luis Walker, found guilty by a military jury on Friday of 28 charges, was ordered to be reduced to lowest rank in the Air Force, to forfeit all pay and allowances, and given a dishonorable discharge. He will also have to register as a sex offender.

Walker took the stand and asked for leniency, saying he did not want to miss his two small boys growing up. He displayed little emotion when the sentence was read, but his relatives, who have remained in the small courtroom throughout the five-day court-martial, began to cry.

The seven-member panel of six men and one woman declined to give him the maximum sentence of life in prison. The jury also had the option of sentencing him to probation instead of prison time. The Uniform Code of Military Justice includes the possibility of parole.

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