Corpsman guilty of lying to get child into school
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — A Navy corpsman was found guilty Thursday of lying to school officials about the birth date of his daughter so he could enroll her in kindergarten a year early.
A jury found the petty officer first class guilty of larceny, forgery, wrongfully impeding an investigation, obtaining government services under false pretenses and two counts of making false official statements.
The jury found the sailor not guilty of assault.
Prosecutors said that during the 2006–07 school year he signed papers and altered documents to make his daughter appear 5 years old, the cut-off age for enrollment in kindergarten in the Department of Defense Dependents Schools system.
They also said that once his forgery was discovered, he snatched incriminating documents away from a Bechtel Elementary School official, and then lied about the location of the documents during an investigation by his chain of command, Headquarters Company, 7th Communications Battalion, on Camp Hansen.
The prosecution claimed the sailor, motivated by financial problems, was trying to avoid spending money on day care.
Company 1st Sgt. Johnny Higdon testified Wednesday about the sailor’s alleged financial problems, telling the court that his command had received several phone calls from his debtors.
During questioning Wednesday by his attorney, Capt. Kristy Milton, the sailor said he wrote the wrong birth date on the forms by mistake. He claimed he was advised to enroll his daughter in a school environment to help her get over a sexual assault that allegedly took place in Hawaii.
In his closing arguments, Capt. Andrew Beckwith tried to focus the attention away from the issue of the alleged sexual assault, and back to sailor’s crimes.
“This case is not about the accused’s daughter. Whatever the motive of the accused,” Beckwith said. “He did various criminal acts and must be held accountable under the law.”
In her closing arguments, Milton said the military’s witnesses were unreliable.
Responding to the sailor’s claim Wednesday that Bechtel officials were lying, Beckwith said, “The only person with a motive to lie is the accused.”
Sentencing was to begin at 8 a.m. Friday.
Stars and Stripes does not identify the families of children who are suspected victims of sexual assault.