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NAPLES, Italy — A Naples-based sailor will spend six months in jail after pleading guilty Friday to distributing child pornography.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Cory Sherman, 20, an information systems technician with Maritime Air Forces Naples, told the military judge in an unsworn statement that he got caught up in the anonymity found in chat rooms on the Internet and “didn’t realize my actions had an impact on the real world.”

“I can’t tell you how sorry I am. … I fully realize what I did was wrong and it is something you never have to worry about happening again,” Sherman said.

At the general court-martial, Sherman told the judge — Navy Capt. Edward Smith — that on 12 to 18 occasions he sent to others what he thought to be sexually explicit photos of boys between the ages of 7 and 12 from his personal computer. He said he did not create the photographs or sell them.

As part of a pretrial agreement, the Navy dropped five specifications, including receipt of child pornography, indecent language and solicitation. The judge sided with the prosecution’s request, sentencing Sherman to 18 months’ confinement with 12 months suspended, reduction to E-1, forfeiture of all pay and allowances and a bad-conduct discharge. Sherman had faced a maximum of 20 years and a dishonorable discharge.

The sailor was caught when he sent a pornographic photograph to a U.S. Navy sailor in Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan, who already was under investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. That launched an NCIS sting against Sherman.

Sherman’s defense attorney, Lt. Cmdr. Schalk Leonard, asked the military judge to consider no jail time for Sherman, arguing that he will be punished by having a felony record and will have to register with his state of residence as a sex offender.

He too argued that the Navy did not restrict or confine Sherman from the time they discovered the crime more than two years ago.

“What is the compelling need to put him behind bars now?” Leonard asked the judge.

Sherman’s father, Bradley, testified as a character witness via telephone from Colorado.

“Sure I’m biased, but he’s a very, very fine, honest and reputable person,” his father said. “He has our unconditional love. We simply have to get beyond this and help him.”

In an interview after the court-martial, Sherman said he was disappointed at the sentence, saying his lawyer made compelling arguments that the government didn’t think him enough of a risk to society during the past two years to jail him or restrict him to the military base.

He said he plans to return to his home in Colorado after serving his time, and possibly go to school. “I’ll think more about the details over the next six months,” he said.

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