Former Fort Benning soldier pleads guilty to sneaking 13-year-old into barracks for a week of sex

By COREY DICKSTEIN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: October 29, 2020

WASHINGTON — A former Army specialist faces at least 10 years imprisonment after pleading guilty Tuesday to federal child exploitation charges, admitting he snuck a 13-year-old runaway into his barracks at Fort Benning, Ga., for six days of sex, U.S. attorneys announced Wednesday.

Former Spc. Samuel Ray Robinson, 23, pleaded guilty in a Columbus, Ga., courtroom to one count of transportation of a minor with intent to engage in sexual criminal activity, the Department of Justice said in a statement. The charge carries a minimum 10-year federal prison sentence and up to life imprisonment as well as a fine up to $250,000.

“Robinson targeted a vulnerable minor online, took her hours away from home, and kept her hidden, abusing her repeatedly,” said Charlie Peeler, the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. “He will pay a steep penalty for his egregious crime — federal prison without parole.”

Robinson is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Clay D. Land on Dec. 17.

Robinson, who has since been discharged from the Army, met his victim online, admitting to federal investigators that he knew she was underage, though he told them he believed she was 15.

The victim left her home in Santa Rose Beach, Fla., on or before May 27, when Robinson drove to nearby Destin, Fla., picked her up at a gas station and drove her some 200 miles to Fort Benning and snuck her into the barracks, according to DOJ. Forensic evidence gathered from the victim’s phone showed it remained on the post until June 2.

While at the base, Robinson repeatedly engaged in sexual activity with the girl and took more than 100 nude photos and videos of her, DOJ officials said.

On June 2, Robinson dropped the girl off at a motel that was off-post in Columbus, Ga. The girl called her mother, alerting her to her location. She was recovered at the motel by Columbus law enforcement officials and driven to her Florida home.

Criminal Investigations Command officials at Fort Benning were alerted to the case on June 14 by Walton County Sheriff’s Office deputies in Florida who were investigating the girl’s disappearance. Court records show Robinson was arrested by federal officials on Aug. 24.

If Robinson is not sentenced to life in prison, he will have to register as a sex offender upon his release and could also face supervised release for the rest of his life as part of his sentence, the DOJ statement said.

“Robinson’s behavior is not tolerated in the U.S. Army and hopefully this will be of some solace to his victim and prevent him from targeting other such vulnerable people,” FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Micah Rush said in a statement.

Twitter: @CDicksteinDC