Hicks was convicted Saturday on charges of indecent assault and conduct unbecoming an officer. He is believed to be the highest-ranking Air Force officer ever convicted on sexual harassment charges. He will serve his time at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.
"This case is about courage," lead prosecutor Maj. James Frank told reporters after the sentencing. "The courage of two junior officers and a civilian to come forward after their commanding officer did this, and their courage to place their face in the military justice system."
Hicks, a decorated former commander of an air group and a 24-year Air Force veteran, unbuttoned blouses, fondled breasts and made lewd remarks to three women: two at Brooks Air Force Base in San Antonio and one at Keesler Air Force Base in Mississippi. One woman testified that Hicks told her that if she wanted a promotion she would have to "get down on your knees."
Air Force officials praised the verdict and the sentence, which was handed down by a six-member court-martial composed of a brigadier general and five colonels.
"This case shows the military justice system works and is fair, regardless of rank, whether you're an airman basic or a full colonel," Frank said.
The court-martial also ordered Hicks to pay a $50,000 fine. Hicks was granted his request not to be dismissed from the Air Force meaning that after completing his sentence, he will retire with costly benefits.
The Air Force has highlighted this case as an example of its determination to crack down on sexual harassment and sexual misconduct. The Air Force has a higher percentage of women in its ranks, and among its officers, than any other branch of the U.S. military.
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