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Army veteran sentenced to prison after pleading guilty to sexually abusing child

A gavel cracks down. (Airman 1st Class Aspen Reid/U.S. Air Force)

An Army veteran and former Joint Base Lewis-McChord resident was sentenced to over 18 years in prison for sexually abusing a girl under his care.

On Friday, a U.S. District Court judge in Tacoma sentenced Shawn Matthew Wilcher to 225 months in prison. The U.S. Department of Justice announced Wilcher’s sentence in a Monday news release. In it, sentencing Judge Benjamin Settle described the abuse as “horrendously serious … she endured unimaginable terror.”

Wilcher, 40, molested the girl on multiple occasions between 2015 and 2019. The abuse took place while he was living at JBLM and Hickman Air Force Base in Hawaii as a civilian resident, according to the news release. He had previously served with the Army in Iraq and Afghanistan but was no longer an active-duty soldier at the time of the crimes.

While most of Wilcher’s court documents were ordered sealed to protect his victim’s identity, his sentencing memorandum indicates he abused the victim on at least two separate occasions. Law enforcement first became aware of the crimes after a friend of the girl reported the incidents to a school counselor in May 2019. Wilcher was arrested that same month, and he accepted a plea bargain in August 2021, court records show.

The news release notes that Wilcher will be treated for post-traumatic stress disorder while imprisoned. U.S. Attorney Nick Brown said that Wilcher blames the molestation on his mental illness, but Brown also emphasized that “studies indicate this young victim will suffer long-lasting trauma throughout her life.”

Wilcher must register as a sex offender and will be subject to lifetime supervision following his release.


(c) 2022 The News Tribune

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