In a case that shocked and outraged the Kaiserslautern military community in Germany, Air Force Staff Sgt. Joshua Adam Smith was convicted in a November court-martial of raping and molesting three girls — ages 3, 4 and 7 — after convincing their parents he was a trustworthy baby sitter.

Smith, 27, found his victims by advertising his baby-sitting services online and molested the girls in their off-base homes and at his military quarters on Vogelweh.

A communications and navigation systems technician with the 86th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Smith pleaded guilty to 18 criminal counts, including penetration with his penis, finger and a marker.

When responding to online classified ads parents posted on seeking child care, Smith used fake references and lied about his background to get the jobs. Smith was caught after the 7-year-old victim told her parents in April.

Military judge Col. Dawn Eflein sentenced Smith to life in prison without parole, making him the first military member given that punishment for any crime other than murder — and the first airman to receive that sentence. The case touched off a flurry of debate in the community, with some people critical of the parents for hiring a male baby sitter. After Smith’s conviction, Air Force Office of Special Investigations officials said they would not disclose whether Smith was suspected of having more victims because they had not closed the case.

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.

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