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KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa — An airman who pleaded guilty to “molesting” and “talking dirty” to a 12-year-old girl was sentenced to 40 months’ confinement, reduction to E-1 and total forfeiture of pay and allowances during a general court-martial Friday at Kadena Air Base.

Tech. Sgt. Jeffrey Himle, 41, with 18th Mission Support Squadron, also pleaded guilty to owning child pornography.

Himle and his wife met the victim’s parents through church activities at a previous duty station in England in late 1998, according to court records. Himle, who joined the Air Force in 1985, arrived on Kadena in November 2002 and became reacquainted with the victim’s family when they arrived here two years later.

Himle testified that on Aug. 13, 2006, while visiting the victim’s family home, he manipulated the situation to get the girl alone in her bedroom.

“I molested her,” he told the judge. “I touched her in places a young girl should not be touched.”

Later that day, the child reported the incident to her mother, who then reported it to the authorities, according to court records. The victim’s father testified he was on temporary duty in South Korea at the time and was informed of the assault over the phone.

In the course of the investigation, Himle’s belongings were searched. On a computer, investigators found 256 pornographic images of naked girls under the age of 16 in sexually explicit poses, according to court records.

Himle told the judge that originally he was searching the Internet for information about the nudist lifestyle but started finding images beyond normal nudist literature “and crossed the line into child pornography.”

He said he then began searching for child pornography.

Before the judge announced the sentence, the victim told the court that during the assault, “I was shocked … confused, and I was very scared.”

Afterward, she said, “I felt alone, and I wasn’t really sure what to do.”

In an unsworn statement, Himle said, “Honestly, nothing I can say can fix the damage I have caused.”

He added, “I would like to apologize to the [victim’s family] for my actions but that seems inadequate.”

Prosecutor Capt. Ryan Hendricks said, “Sergeant Himle is a predator of the flesh, and he stalked his prey.”

Hendricks asked the judge to hand down a sentence that included eight years of confinement.

Defense attorney Capt. Jon Wasden argued that if Himle was a true threat to society, he would have been in pretrial confinement. Instead Himle was restricted to base, but could leave as long as he informed authorities of where he was going, Wasden said.

The maximum punishment Himle could have received was a dishonorable discharge, 19 years of confinement, reduction to E-1, forfeiture of all pay and allowances and a possible fine.

The military judge sentenced Himle to confinement for six years and a dishonorable discharge, but a pretrial agreement limited confinement to 40 months and mandated that Himle be allowed to retire from the military without punitive discharge.

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