It was a horrible act. ... I am a broken man’
September 21, 2008
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — In a tearful courtroom statement, a Yokosuka chief petty officer apologized Friday for the "devastation" he caused from forcing his 7-year-old daughter to perform oral sex on him.
"It was a horrible act," the 35-year-old Ship Repair Facility worker said. "I am a broken man; my moral foundation is shattered."
Military judge Capt. Dennis Bengston ruled that it was an "unspeakable act" and sentenced him to 25 years in prison.
The sailor, unnamed to protect the victim’s identity, admitted to committing sexual acts with his child earlier this summer. He was incarcerated May 31 after his daughter told a babysitter what her father made her do approximately eight times while he watched pornographic material on his computer.
Friday’s hearing decided the sailor’s sentence.
A pretrial agreement, however, cut the 25 years to 12 years. The sailor also was reduced in rank to E-1 and will receive a dishonorable discharge.
The bulk of Friday’s arguments centered on recidivism, or the sailor’s potential to commit another sex offense or another crime once released from prison.
The average person believes most sex offenders will repeat their crimes, but it’s not true, said Reneau Kennedy, a Hawaii-based clinical and forensic psychologist testifying for the defense.
"Sex offenders are all different," Kennedy said. "The recidivism rates are low for incest and are only 5 percent after treatment."
Kennedy diagnosed the sailor with pedophilia and a sexual abnormality connected to his use of pornography, calling it an "imminent factor" in the abuse.
Kennedy recommended the sailor be confined at the Naval Consolidated Brig Miramar, Calif., home to specialized treatment for incest offenders, she said.
But the Level II facility houses only criminals with sentences of seven years or less. Leavenworth, Kansas, the military’s maximum security prison, holds prisoners with sentences of 10 years or more, but doesn’t offer specialized programs that could provide better rehabilitation and treatment, Kennedy said.
"We’re all human beings, and we all need help to move on," Kennedy said.
But the crime merits more time, said prosecutor Lt. Michael Torrisi who argued that a long sentence would send an important message to the victim.
"A strong sentence will convey to her that this is not her fault; that this evil was her father’s fault," Torrisi said.
Though the child and her mother returned stateside, Marine Corps Base Iwakuni child psychologist Cmdr. Mark Russell testified about the likely effects the child will suffer in the short and long term. "At the age of 7, incest and the aftereffects of incest changes someone’s life trajectory." Russell said. "The facts of her life will never be normal."
Defense attorney Lt. Garrett Snow argued that his client realized what he did was wrong, and that the best way to help the victim was to provide her father with the treatment to make sure it never happens again.
"He realized that there are things he cannot repair," Snow said. "And we need to do all we can to repair him."
The sailor’s sister testified on his behalf, pledging her support and her belief that her brother would use "his experience to help other people not hurt as much as we’ve hurt."
The sailor’s wife testified by phone, saying that while she knew her husband "was sick, justice had to be done.
"I trusted him more than anyone in the whole world. Now that trust is broken, and it’s the most painful thing I’ve ever experienced."