DOD civilian sentenced for sexual abuse of minors
Stars and Stripes March 16, 2006
WIESBADEN, Germany — A 40-year-old Defense Department civilian employee was sentenced to 4½ years in a German prison Tuesday for molesting two minor girls over the past five years.
James Shank, a Defense Logistics Agency employee who works out of Germersheim Army Depot, confessed to several counts of sexual abuse against minors in the German Landgericht in Wiesbaden, which is the equivalent of a state-level court.
Earlier in his trial, Shank confessed to the crimes, and on Tuesday morning, he spoke to the judges and the victims’ family before sentencing.
“I hope that it can be forgiven,” Shank said. “I hope they will do well and that the time will pass and it will be forgotten.”
Throughout the reading of the sentence, the parents of the victims scoffed at what they saw as a light sentence. Shank confessed to numerous molestations of the victims, who were about 9 and 10 years old when the abuse began in 2000.
“I don’t think he got enough for what he did,” said the victims’ father, who is in the Air Force. The victims’ mother is German.
Shank’s employment with the DLA is now under review due to the conviction and sentencing, said Stephen Abney, a DLA spokesman.
“A German court conviction may result in a civilian member accompanying the force being terminated from federal service,” he said, adding that he had no timetable for when a decision would be made on Shank’s employment.
Shank will have to register as a sex offender if and when he returns to the States, said Maj. Patrick Vergona of the 1st Armored Division’s Staff Judge Advocate Office.
Under the Status of Forces Agreement, division SJA representatives attended the trial as observers. Also as part of the SOFA, Shank’s attorney was partially paid for by U.S. Army Europe, Vergona said last week.
But now that Shank has been convicted and sentenced, he will have to pay back about $4,223 in German court costs, said Beate Korz, an international paralegal with the 1st AD’s SJA office.
Shank will most likely serve his sentence at the Frankfurt-Hoechst prison, and he could be up for parole after serving two-thirds of his sentence, she said.
While Germany does not have a sex offender registry like in the States, Shank will receive a fuehrungszeugnis, or certificate of criminal record, when he is released, Korz said.
This record will be provided to any future German employer and will be kept on file for several years, she said.
Getting Shank behind bars was one part in the victims’ recovery, their father said, and now the next step can be taken.
“We’re just going to try to move on,” he said.