JBLM soldier pleads guilty in Internet sex case

Tacoma News TribuneJuly 18, 2013 

A 25-year-old soldier accused of coercing and threatening underage girls into sending him sexually explicit photographs of themselves pleaded guilty Thursday to two felonies.

Pfc. David Ford of Joint Base Lewis-McChord is to be sentenced Sept. 13. He faces a standard-range sentence of three to four years in prison, Pierce County deputy prosecutor Bryce Nelson said.

Nelson said he intends to argue for the high end while Ford's defense attorney will argue for a low-end sentence.

Ford pleaded guilty to one count each of sexual exploitation of a minor and second-degree extortion. He remains jailed in lieu of $500,000 bail pending sentencing, jail records show.

Ford was arrested in September after returning from a deployment in Afghanistan. Prosecutors charged him with 25 crimes, including multiple counts each of communication with a minor for immoral purposes, possession of depictions of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct and second-degree extortion.

According to court records, Ford contacted seven girls - six of them via Facebook - and offered them money or gifts in exchange for nude photos. He also threatened to make the photos public should the girls stop communicating with him, the records show.

Prosecutors also alleged Ford tried to convince two of the girls to have sex with him.

Authorities began investigating him in April 2012 after a 15-year-old girl reported to the Washington State Patrol that he'd made sexual comments to her over Facebook.

Detectives found images of the victims on his computer, court records show.

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