Crime

Former JBLM soldier gets 25 years for Skyping rape of girl

A former Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldier was sentenced Friday to 25 years in federal prison for repeatedly raping a young female relative and broadcasting some of the abuse via the Internet.

Joseph Thomas French, 29, pleaded guilty earlier this year to charges of production of child pornography and distribution of child pornography.

“This is a very serious and tragic offense ... an offense that should be punished heavily,” Judge Ronald Leighton said before handing down the sentence at the U.S. District Courthouse in Tacoma.

Investigators said French was an active-duty soldier at JBLM when he tied up and raped the girl at least 15 times between 2010 and 2013. French locked the girl’s siblings in another room while the abuse was underway, court records show.

The victim reported the abuse last year, when she was 10.

“The long-term impact of this conduct on the victim and her siblings is simply unimaginable,” assistant U.S. attorney Kate Vaughan wrote in a sentencing memorandum submitted to Leighton.

On multiple occasions, French set up his computer so it could capture video and broadcast the abuse to others over Skype, court records show.

“On at least one occasion an individual receiving the live transmission of French’s sexual assault of (the victim) stated that they had a minor child with them who would view the audio and video live feed of the sexual assault ... in order to entice the minor to engage in sex acts,” Vaughan wrote.

French qualified for a life sentence, but Vaughan recommended 25 years because French is “fully remorseful for his acts, has no prior criminal history and intends to complete sexual deviancy treatment while in prison,” her memo states.

French’s defense attorney, Linda Sullivan, successfully argued to have her sentencing memorandum sealed.

No charges have been brought against the people who allegedly watched the abuse because investigators have not been able to identify them, said Emily Langlie, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle.

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