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Opaque military justice system shields child sex abuse cases

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  • Opaque military justice system shields child sex abuse cases

    WASHINGTON (AP) Child sex offenders are the largest category of inmates in U.S. military prisons, yet a full accounting of their crimes and how much time they're actually locked up for is shielded by an opaque system of justice, an Associated Press investigation has found.

    Of the 1,233 inmates confined in the military's prison network, 61 percent were convicted of sex crimes, according to the latest available data, obtained through the federal open records law. Children were the victims in over half of those cases.

    Since the beginning of this year alone, service members victimized children in 133 out of 301 sex crime convictions, with charges ranging from rape to distributing child pornography.

    Child sex assaults in the military have received scant attention in Washington, where Congress and the Defense Department have focused largely on preventing and prosecuting adult-on-adult sex crimes.

    Daniel E. DeSmit, a Marine Corps chief warrant officer, spent at least $36,000 viewing and producing child pornography over the span of six years. In emails examined by Navy criminal investigators, DeSmit described his preference for sex with prepubescent girls as "the best experience."

    A military judge in January found DeSmit, 44, guilty of a litany of sex offenses and sentenced him to 144 years behind bars. But he'll serve just a fraction of that. In an undisclosed pretrial agreement, the Marine Corps slashed his prison term to 20 years. When the AP asked for the investigative report into DeSmit's case, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service rejected the Freedom of Information Act request on privacy grounds. The report was released only after the AP appealed.
    AP - Full Article

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