A Coast Guardsman stationed in Alaska faces three years in prison and a dishonorable discharge after abusing a minor and then lying to federal investigators.
Chief Petty Officer Benjamin Sylvester, 43, reached a per-trial agreement with prosecutors and pleaded guilty Thursday to one charge of making false official statements and two charges of “indecent acts with a child."
The verdict was handed down at a general court martial in Juneau.
According to Coast Guard spokesman Kip Wadlow, the charges stem from a 2004 incident involving a 12-year-old girl when Sylvester was stationed in Maine.
“The investigation started in Nov. 2012 when the victim came forward and made the allegations against Chief Sylvester,” Wadlow said, prompting Coast Guard investigators in Maine, Virginia, and Alaska to begin working the case.
Sylvester was stationed in Kodiak when the investigation began, and he was reassigned to administrative duties at the Coast Guard’s Kodiak base during the investigation.
“He was not deemed a threat to the community and was not taken into custody” during the trial, Wadlow said.
Sylvester’s dishonorable discharge for "bad conduct" means he faces three years in military jail (with four years suspended) at the Consolidated Military Brig in Miramar, California. Sylvester was also reduced to the lowest pay grade in the Coast Guard, an E-1 “seaman recruit,” and will lose all accrued and future military benefits.