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Sitka Coast Guardsman sentenced to jail, discharged for child pornography offense

Petty Officer James M. Grover admitted to offenses during Juneau court-martial

Posted: July 7, 2013 - 7:42pm  |  Updated: July 8, 2013 - 12:00am

A Sitka Coast Guardsman has been found guilty of making false statements to officials and crimes related to the possession of child pornography.

Petty Officer 2nd Class James M. Grover, 30, admitted to the offenses during a court-martial by military judge Saturday in the Juneau Federal Building.

Captain Christine N. Cutter, the chief trial judge for the Coast Guard, sentenced Grover to 18 months in confinement, dishonorably discharged him and ordered all his pay and allowances to be forfeited.

A pre-trial sentencing agreement, however, allowed Grover’s sentence to be capped at nine months confinement and mitigated the discharge from dishonorable to “bad conduct.” That was agreed to by District 17 Commander Rear Admiral Thomas P. Ostebo, the convening authority of the court-martial.

Grover pleaded guilty to attempted possession of child pornography and possessing what appeared to be child pornography, both of which are violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice Article 134. State law will require him to register as a sex offender.

Grover told the judge he downloaded or attempted to download “a couple hundred” images or videos via a peer-to-peer filing sharing network on his personal computer at home while he was stationed both at Air Station Sitka and in Clearwater, Fla.

Assistant Trial Counsel Lt. Commander John Cashman said the case began when Grover’s companion found the images on his computer and reported it to authorities in March 2011. The year-long investigation that followed revealed about 90 suspicious images on his computer, three of which depicted known victims of sexual exploitation, Cashman said.

Grover admitted lying to special agents from the Coast Guard Investigative Service during their investigation in March 2012, which had led to the false statement charge.

Grover’s attorneys — Lt. Tereza Ohley and civilian defense attorneys Steven Carpenter and Wendellyn Wright — argued for a three-month long jail sentence and to allow Grover to stay in the service. They called witnesses who testified Grover was excellent at his job and helped rescue Americans in Haiti during the 2010 earthquake, which earned him the Air Medal.

Prosecutors, meanwhile, requested the 18 month sentence and dishonorable discharge, which the judge agreed to.

Prosecutors had additionally charged Grover with crimes relating to failure to pay adequate child support for his now 4-year-old daughter, and thus endangering her well-being, but those charges were dismissed Saturday.

Grover was taken into custody immediately after the court-martial and will serve his jail time at a Department of Defense correctional facility.

The maximum prison sentence Grover could have received was 25 years and four months.

Grover, originally from Boston, enlisted in the Coast Guard in January 2003 and was an aviation electronic technician.

Contact reporter Emily Russo Miller at 523-2263 or at emily.miller@juneauempire.com.

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