1st ID soldier pleads guilty to pornography charges
WüRZBURG, Germany — A 1st Infantry Division soldier pleaded guilty Wednesday to possessing adult pornography while downrange and child pornography while in Germany.
Spc. Jared M. Wiggins, 27, of the 1st Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, was sentenced to two years in prison, reduction to E-1, forfeiture of pay and a bad-conduct discharge. He could have faced up to 12 years in confinement.
Wiggins amassed more than 500 video and photo files of child pornography since late 2003. He told the military judge that the adult pornography found on his downrange computer was there when he bought it from another soldier, but that he then added and traded files with other troops, violating a general order for soldiers in Iraq.
Wiggins told the judge that, in 2003, he searched out child porn on a file-sharing network, amassing his collection until fellow soldiers caught him about 10 months ago. After returning from a yearlong deployment to Iraq in March 2005, he sought out more child pornography, said Wiggins, who worked as a medic.
Wiggins said he knew the subjects were minors because of their “developmental stages.”
Before sentencing, former commanders of Wiggins’ testified that he was a good worker, even as the child porn investigation ensued. This led Capt. Jen Bottoms, a member of Wiggins’ defense team, to ask the judge for a prison sentence and reduction in rank, but not a discharge from the Army.
“This is a disturbing course of conduct by a soldier who is salvageable,” she said.
In an unsworn statement, Wiggins told the judge that he had been molested as a child, and that he wasn’t in touch with his emotions. Since he was caught, Wiggins said he has been going to therapy, and he now understands the further trauma he caused the children in his video and photo collection.
“I know what they were feeling, and that makes me feel worse,” he said. “I deserve jail time. I even deserve to get kicked out of the Army, but I’d love to stay.”
One of the prosecutors, Capt. Matthew Kemkes, said that Wiggins helped perpetuate the abuse of the children, and that justifies a tough sentence and discharge.
At least 10 of the victims in Wiggins’ collection have been identified by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Kemkes said, and some of the perpetrators have been prosecuted.
Wiggins had 45 images of one victim, he said, adding that another victim was molested and recorded between the ages of 7 and 11. The recordings of her molestation have been disseminated for years.
“She’s 39 now,” Kemkes said. “Each one of these victims has a story.”
Wiggins said he was glad to be getting help.
“I never liked what I was doing,” he said. “I’m glad I got turned in.”