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Army War College colonel faces federal child pornography charges

An officer assigned to the Army War College in Carlisle, who was previously charged in state court with having child pornography, faces new charges in federal court after his wife allegedly found images on his home computer, court documents say.

In his work at the college, Col. Robert J. Rice, 56, designed strategic war game exercises. He also authored papers on topics such as a comparison of civil-military affairs under former secretaries of defense Robert J. McNamara and Donald Rumsfeld.

At home, prosecutors said, he worked to deflect his wife's suspicions of infidelity that eventually led to more than 120 child pornography charges in state court last year. Rice is awaiting trial on those charges in Cumberland County Court, according to court records.

The U.S. attorney's office in Harrisburg on Wednesday filed an indictment charging Rice with possession and distribution of child pornography, charges that carry a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison.

Rice had admitted to his wife, Marilyn, years earlier that he was addicted to pornography and patronized strip clubs and she began to suspect he was having an affair, according to the indictment.

Because his wife regularly searched his personal computer, the colonel stopped saving pornography to the hard drive and began using portable storage devices instead, court papers say.

In one of her searches, Marilyn Rice found the colonel had placed an ad with nude photographs of himself on an adult dating website, the indictment says. Marilyn Rice installed software on her husband's computer that tracked his activity.

After returning from a trip to Florida last year, Rice's wife reviewed the data recorded by the software that she had installed and saw what she believed to be child pornography and a chat conversation about finding such material on the Internet, according to the court records.

She ordered her husband to leave their home and turned his computer over to police.

Police obtained a warrant to search the computer and said they found Robert Rice had viewed images of child pornography, copied them to a removable disk, chatted with another person online about trading images and distributed images depicting child sexual abuse over the Internet.

The search also revealed software designed to conceal Rice's online activities each time the computer was turned off, and evidence that he had viewed child pornography since early 2009, the records say.

Rice began working at the War College in 2010 as a member of its support staff and was not a teacher, a school spokeswoman said. He began his military service as a field artillery officer in 1985.

"As to the federal charge, this is the legal process taking its course and, as always, we are cooperating as needed with law enforcement," public affairs officer Carol Kerr said.

Attorney Joseph Caraciolo, who represents Rice in state court, did not return a call.

peter.hall@mcall.com

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