Child Sex Crimes And The Military
A recent Associated Press (AP) investigation found that there are more inmates in United States military prisons for sex crimes against children than for any other offense. In fact, out of the 1,233 inmates confined in the military’s prisons, sixty-one percent have been convicted of sex crimes, with children as the victims in more than half of the sex crimes cases. In the military, a child is defined as someone who is younger than sixteen years old. In 2015 alone, almost half of the 301 military member sex crime convictions involved children as victims, including crimes such as sexual battery, or rape, and child pornography. These cases have affected local military members of the USAF, USMC, USN and the US Coast Guard. The bases affected include Eglin Air Force Base (EAFB), Duke, Whiting, Pensacola NAS, and Hurlburt Field.
Information regarding these federal military sex crimes and the sentences of those convicted is oftentimes inaccessible, or at least hard to come by. The AP investigation discovered that the records for military court proceedings, which are separate and independent from civilian court proceedings, can only be obtained through the drawn-out Freedom of Information Act process. This involves both time and money. Though technically military courts are open to the public just like civilian courts are, many military trials are conducted on military bases which are ordinarily closed off to the media and civilians. Accordingly, because of all of the red tape involved in obtaining military court records, there is a cloud of secrecy that hangs over the happenings in military courts. Additionally, military service members who are prosecuted by civilian law enforcement authorities always have military service consequences.
The AP’s investigation of the seemingly secretive military court proceedings produced some interesting findings on how military courts deal with sex offenses against children. In one case investigated by the AP, it was found that a Chief Warrant Officer, who was convicted after being found guilty of spending at least $36,000 producing and viewing child pornography over the course of six years, received a prison sentence of 144 years, a reprimand, and a dismissal. However, the sentence was later reduced to twenty years imprisonment due to a pretrial deal with the Marine Corps. This information was only made available to the AP after a Freedom of Information Act request was initially denied on privacy grounds but then granted after the AP appealed the denial. This type of fact pattern almost never occurs and is highly unusual.
This Chief Warrant Officer was only one of dozens of sex offenders who the AP found “benefitted” from pretrial deals. According to the AP’s report, since the beginning of July, thirty-one soldiers, sailors, and Marines were convicted of sex crimes involving children. Twenty of these offenders had struck pretrial agreements, and if the above story is any indication of the severity of the federal system, the secrecy becomes a serious concern.
Regardless of the lengthy process for obtaining military court records, and the secrecy that may surround military court proceedings due to that process, the statistics still clearly indicate that sex offenses against children are considered to be a big problem in the military. The Pentagon responded to the AP’s study saying that the largest group of inmates are in jail for sex offenses against children because judges and juries view these crimes as intolerable, and thus convicted offenders are more deserving of harsher prison terms. Of course, any military court punishment does not include any penalties that can result from a state court conviction for a sex offense against a child.
Let a Certified Fort Walton Beach Criminal Defense Attorney Help Fight Your Sex Offense Charge
The political environment surrounding sex offense charges makes the defense of such charges difficult and expensive. Obviously, sex offense charges should not be taken lightly as a conviction has serious and long-lasting consequences.
If you are a service member, it is possible to be penalized in both civilian and military court. Specialist Stephen G. Cobb has assembled teams both large and small for defending military service members and retirees from the awful consequences of a sex offense conviction.
If you or someone you love has been arrested and charged with a sex offense under Florida law, it is important that you consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney – a Florida Bar Board Certified Specialist in criminal trial law – right away. Schedule a free consultation with Stephen G. Cobb today by calling (850) 466-1522 and let a qualified and experienced Fort Walton Beach criminal defense attorney help you fight your sex offense charge
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