U.S. Air Force v. E-7 (Sexual Abuse of a Minor, Child Pornography)
Ramstein, Air Force Base, Germany
Client was charged with viewing child pornography. Client was charged with sexual abusing two sisters who happen to be daughters of his neighbor in Niedermohr Germany. The nature of the sexual abuse alleged was touching, intentionally showing pornography and requesting that one of the sisters touch Client’s penis. At the time the allegations arose, the alleged victims were 8 and 10 years old respectfully. The case was a puzzle from the very beginning. OSI ran charging into this case like a bull in a china shop. After hearing the initial report from the alleged victims, they went to Client’s house and requested to search. Our client consented. They never told him during the search that he could refuse the search. Additionally, they never told him during the search that he could prevent seizure of any of his items save a warrant. He never knew they had a warrant until a few days later. OSI seized his computer and a hard drive because OSI perceived that one of the alleged victims had been forced to watch pornography. OSI wanted to corroborate this perceived claim. Additionally OSI interviewed Client who willingly gave a statement for over an hour. Then he requested a lawyer. After he requested a lawyer OSI still came back and requested more information, specifically, the password to his computer. Client requested a lawyer. OSI wrongly stated that a lawyer could not help him with that, and that their request was administrative. OSI had no business making that statement. Client acquiesced to their request and OSI illegally obtained this computer password. OSI searched both the computer and an external hard drive, failing to find the porn video that the alleged victim gave a statement about. Instead, they found hidden thumbs.db files that seemed to be child pornography. Now, OSI’s original warrant did not state that child pornography was within the scope of the search. During the trial, OSI agents readily admitted that they were not looking for child pornography initially. Once the initial hit was made, OSI failed to obtain an additional warrant searching the computer and hard drive for child pornography. Instead, they sent off the computer and hard drive to their labs in Maryland to be tested and scrutinized for child pornography. The Air Force Defense Counsel, Captain John Jamison, succeeded in convincing the Court to suppress the evidence from this search. What was interesting here was the fact that even if this charge was not dismissed, the prosecutors had no way to prove that Client had viewed child pornography based off the nature of the files found. We learned this based off of the stellar research and analysis conducted by James Goldman, of Global Compu Search. The alleged victims claims were fantastical. The older of the two claimed that Client hugged funny. She also claimed that she could see him masturbating through the frosted window next to Client’s home as she made her way up the walk way. Her sister claimed the same allegations, among others already mentioned. This case came down to credibility. Both alleged victims are extremely intelligent. They are gifted students. They are very articulate. Their parents were going through significant financial issues. Additionally, Client spent a lot of time with their father playing board games, which also caused strife in the home and marriage. We offered a motive to fabricate to the jury that the girls wanted to keep the family together, and that they thought Client was the major catalyst in tearing the family apart. The defense also subtly showed that the girl’s knowledge about sexual matters could have easily come from their father. During the time frame of the allegations, their father was conducting an illicit affair with his wife’s co-worker. One of the alleged victims stumbled into his man cave when he was looking at her naked picture on his computer. Lastly Client opted to take the stand. Six individuals attesting to his character for truthfulness buttressed his testimony. It made no sense for a 17 year veteran of the Air Force, studying for his E-8 board, studying for his Masters degree, with a relatively new wife and newborn daughter to commit the acts charged. The military panel of 7 agreed and found him not guilty. Many thanks for the contributions of Captain John Jamison, Dr. Mark Whitehill, James Goldman, and Mr. Michael West of Arkansas Investigations to this case.