JBLM soldier arrested on suspicion of child rape

Staff writerFebruary 12, 2014 

A Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldier was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of raping a young girl and sending photographs of the abuse to others.

Joseph Thomas French, a 27-year-old Lakewood man, appeared in court Wednesday afternoon and was ordered held for 72 hours as the investigation continues. He had not yet been charged. Bail was set at $1.5 million.

Investigators said the sexual assaults took place over the last three years. They are still determining where the abuse took place but suspect it includes multiple states, which is why the FBI was brought in.

“Our main concern was to get this guy in custody in case he wants to continue his behavior,” Washington State Patrol Sgt. Jason Hicks said.

Florida police called the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division on Sunday to tell them about the allegations. They brought in the State Patrol’s Missing and Exploited Children’s Task Force.

Circumstances surrounding the sexual abuse were not released but investigators said the soldier knew the girl.

“We also have reason to believe images of this nature were sent out over the Internet,” Hicks said.

The task force seized various digital media belonging to the soldier, which are being examined.

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