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CAMP CASEY, South Korea — A 2nd Infantry Division soldier was sentenced Wednesday to two years in prison for downloading child pornography and soliciting sex via chat room exchanges with a police officer posing as a 14-year-old.

Spc. Wesley S. Edmond of the 2nd Battalion, 9th Infantry’s headquarters company, also received a bad-conduct discharge and a rank reduction to E-1.

Sometime between September and October 2006, Edmond downloaded and saved pictures of underage teens having sex, according to testimony.

He also entered the “Virtual Shagging” room at a popular online chat site and conversed with what he thought was a girl who eventually introduced herself as a 14-year-old. The “girl” was actually a female police lieutenant acting in a sting operation to catch sexual predators.

Edmond asked the undercover agent if she would have sex with a 31-year-old man. Using graphic language, he told her he wanted to have sex with her while acknowledging he knew she was 14.

In an unsworn statement during his sentencing hearing, Edmond said he “hated what he did.”

He choked back tears as he talked about his ongoing divorce and how he will have to explain his conviction to his young daughter one day.

“I feel I have let her down with what I did, and I am ashamed of it,” Edmond said.

Two of Edmond’s supervisors testified he had been a hard-working soldier. They said they believed his offenses were a one-time event and that he could still be a productive member of society.

“If I had children of my own, I’d let him baby-sit them, sir,” Staff Sgt. Ryan Parmelee said.

Edmond earned an Army commendation medal with valor while serving in Kuwait.

A soldier with Edmond’s record should have known better, prosecutor Capt. Marlin Paschal argued. Edmond downloaded the pictures and then initiated three chats with the undercover officer. If the sting hadn’t caught Edmond, he might be chatting with actual 14-year-olds, Paschal said.

“The accused’s conduct displayed an escalating pattern,” Paschal said.

Defense attorney Capt. Brigid Osei-Bobie argued that Edmond realized his actions were wrong before his arrest.

“During the third chat log, he cut off the conversation … of his own volition,” Osei-Bobie said.

Military judge Col. Gregory Gross sentenced Edmond to three years in prison, but a pretrial agreement limited the time served to two years.

Edmond will have to register as a sex offender in his state should he return to the U.S. following separation from the military.

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