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Soldier in Germany guilty of one child porn charge, acquitted on second

By MARK ABRAMSON | STARS AND STRIPES Published: July 12, 2009

VILSECK, Germany — Army Sgt. 1st Class Steven Shafer of the 3rd Battalion, 58th Aviation Regiment was convicted of one count of possession of child pornography and acquitted of a second early Saturday.

Shafer, 43, was sentenced to one year of confinement, reduction in rank to E-1, forfeiture of all pay and allowances and a dishonorable discharge after a panel of seven noncommissioned officers and officers convicted him at 2:30 a.m. of possession of child pornography on his personal computer.

Shafer, who faced up to 10 years confinement for each charge, was acquitted of possession of child pornography on a thumb drive.

Dr. Michelle Flores, a pediatrician at a health clinic in Katterbach, testified that 90 percent of the hundreds of images that she was asked to look at by investigators for the case were of children. Army Criminal Investigation Command investigators and several soldiers, including troops who were deployed to Iraq, also took the stand.

"Today and yesterday the government had you look at some extremely unpleasant images," prosecuting attorney Capt. Brian Sullivan told the jury during his closing arguments Friday night. "There is one person in this who possessed those images and that is the accused."

Sullivan argued that hundreds of child pornography images must have been Shafer’s and not someone else’s because they were put on his computer 22 times between March 2005 and June 2006 and on the thumb drive five times between May 2006 and August 2007.

Defense attorney David Court argued that prosecutors and investigators couldn’t say for certain how the images got on the thumb drive, partly because it was in the possession of others, including a sergeant who admitted he used a government computer to download adult pornography, and that if Shafer’s equipment contained child pornography, Shafer didn’t know it.

He also argued that Shafer wouldn’t have noticed child pornography on his computer and thumb drive because of all the adult pornographic images he had on the equipment. Roughly 10,000 adult pornography images were found in the investigation, Court said.

"The government has not shown you knowing possession by Sgt. Shafer of anything," Court told the panel during his closing arguments.

Shafer, who joined the Army in April 1993, did not take the stand during the three-day court martial.


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