Then-Petty Officer 1st Class Adam Pyron poses during a frocking ceremony at Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan, in early 2019. The promotion was later taken away after he was accused of child rape.

Then-Petty Officer 1st Class Adam Pyron poses during a frocking ceremony at Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan, in early 2019. The promotion was later taken away after he was accused of child rape. (Maria Pyron)

YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — A Navy police officer was sentenced to 39 years in prison after his conviction Friday of seven child sex crimes involving an acquaintance’s 6- and 8-year-old children.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Adam Pyron, 29, a former master-at-arms at Yokosuka, was found guilty of rape of a child; two counts of attempted rape of a child; and four counts of sexual abuse of a child by indecent communication, indecent exposure and sexual contact after a weeklong jury trial.

The charges stem from the night of Feb. 4, after a Super Bowl party at a new friend’s house, when Pyron was accused of exposing himself to the children, rubbing himself on the 8-year-old and having the 6-year-old perform oral sex on him, according to court testimony.

A week of testimony told a story of a fall-from-grace and loss of innocence that left two families in agony.

The two families met while living temporarily in the base lodge after arriving in Japan, the victims’ mother told Stars and Stripes in April.

A few months later, after settling into their new home, the victims’ parents were eager to make friends and invited acquaintances to watch the big game, the victims’ mother said. But only Pyron came.

In Japan, the time zone difference meant the Super Bowl kickoff started at 8:30 a.m. Monday. Sailors are traditionally given the day off to celebrate the American pseudo holiday. For Pyron, that involved drinking sun-up to sundown at his new friends’ house, according to testimony.

When night fell, he was too drunk to go home, so the family let him sleep on the living room couch, according to testimony. Because they are minor victims of a sex crime, Stars and Stripes is not identifying the family involved.

‘You can’t do that to kids’

The 8-year-old was asleep in her second-floor bedroom that night when she woke to her 6-year-old sister telling her Pyron wanted them to come downstairs, she testified July 16 while clutching a stuffed unicorn for comfort.

The three lay down on the couch, the 8-year-old told jurors. The rest of the family was asleep upstairs.

That’s when Pyron exposed and rubbed himself on the 8-year-old before she ran upstairs, the sisters testified. The 6-year-old said “the bad man” then told her to give him oral sex. She later ran away.

Pyron found her and did it again, before offering to reciprocate, the 6-year-old said through tears on the witness stand.

“You can’t do that to kids,” the 6-year-old told Pyron, according to her testimony. She then told him to leave.

In the morning, the sisters told their mother what had happened as she was getting them ready for school. The family went to the base police station — Pyron’s command — to report the crime, the victims’ mother said.

Pyron later admitted to the acts, saying he was “disgusted with himself” in a video of a four-hour interrogation with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service the following day.

“I remember realizing what I was doing, and it freaked me out, so I left,” he said in the interrogation video. “I don’t do this stuff, but apparently I do.”

On Wednesday, DNA forensic analyst Dawn Bassett testified that investigators found the 6-year-old’s DNA on Pyron’s genitals, according to court testimony. Bassett said the DNA was “likely from bodily fluid,” such as saliva.

Pyron’s defense team argued this pointed to his innocence, because as a law enforcement officer, he would have known to shower off any DNA evidence if he were guilty.

While the 6-year-old’s DNA was found on Pyron, none of the 8-year-old’s DNA was found on him, according to Bassett’s testimony.

Pyron’s DNA wasn’t discovered anywhere in the house or on the girls, Pyron’s wife, Maria Pyron, told Stars and Stripes on Tuesday. The DNA analyst testified that none of Pyron’s DNA was found on the 8-year-old, but she was not asked by the prosecution whether his DNA was found in the house or on the 6-year-old.

“It should have been somewhere in that room and it wasn’t anywhere,” Maria Pyron said.

Retracted confession

Pyron took the stand July 17 to retract his confession, which the defense argued was coerced. He testified that NCIS agents falsely convinced him of his guilt during the interrogation.

Coming from a law enforcement background, Pyron said, he had no reason to disbelieve investigators.

Pyron told jurors he was very intoxicated that night and his memory was hazy. He had more than 16 drinks before interacting with the children, according to his testimony.

He told jurors he woke up to small hands on his genitals. His pants were already undone, he testified, and it was dark and difficult to see.

Maria Pyron told Stars and Stripes her husband remembered that the hands were “sticky,” which she said explained why the 6-year-old’s DNA was found. She testified July 17 that her husband told her he thought something nefarious happened to him that night, she testified.

“He told me he remembered hearing, ‘My daddy’s not gonna be your friend anymore,’” Maria Pyron told Stars and Stripes.

Pyron told jurors he didn’t initially reveal this memory to investigators because it didn’t fit with the NCIS version of events that he was led to believe.

Guilty verdict

Jurors on Friday convicted Pyron on all charges. The judge, Capt. Stephen Reyes, sentenced him immediately to 39 years in prison, dishonorable discharge and reduction in rank to E-1. Pyron will be required to register as a sex offender when released from prison, according to court documents.

Pyron is appealing the verdict, Maria Pyron said.

“This isn’t over yet,” Maria Pyron said. “My husband is not capable of something like this, and if he was, I wouldn’t be standing here right now.”

Maria Pyron said she is moving her family back to the United States while her husband goes to prison. She will stand by him, she said.

The victims’ mother told Stars and Stripes the incident has changed her family permanently.

“This is a bittersweet victory; our lives, as well as the lives of others have been forever marred by the actions of this sailor,” she said. “We remain sad, yet hopeful.”

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Caitlin Doornbos covers the Pentagon for Stars and Stripes after covering the Navy’s 7th Fleet as Stripes’ Indo-Pacific correspondent at Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan. Previously, she worked as a crime reporter in Lawrence, Kan., and Orlando, Fla., where she was part of the Orlando Sentinel team that placed as finalist for the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for breaking news. Caitlin has a Bachelor of Science in journalism from the University of Kansas and master’s degree in defense and strategic studies from the University of Texas at El Paso.

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