Army Colonel Apologizes to Victims as He Gets 12 Years in Child Porn Case

A decorated U.S. Army colonel sentenced to 12 years for receipt and distribution of child pornography, sobbed in court as he apologized to the victims of his crimes.

Robert Rice, 59, reportedly told a federal judge in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Wednesday that he recognized his crime was not victimless and was deeply ashamed and sorry for continuing the cycle of abuse and damage.

“When this began, I didn’t see the human beings,” said Rice, who once headed the U.S. Army’s strategic war gaming division, the Associated Press reported. “I came to realize that this is not a victimless crime. That each time an image is passed it renews the ... emotional damage.”

Rice had received an earlier sentence of four years after pleading guilty to three pornography counts during a military court-martial. That term, which will run concurrent to Wednesday’s sentencing, is currently under review by an Army general.

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Rice’s attorney argued that his client’s age puts him in a low risk of re-offending, and that he has benefitted from counseling.

But Assistant U.S. Attorney James Clancy, who tried the federal case which went before a jury, said Rice’s actions during the investigation and trial were calculated, the AP wrote.

"The severity of this kind of crime cannot be overstated," Clancy said.

Rice wore his full dress uniform, including his many medals, every day to his trial, during which he blamed his estranged wife for his conduct, Rice said.

Rice’s wife, to whom he has been involved with in a protracted, bitter and not-yet-finalized divorce, had apparently seen child pornography on her husband’s laptop, which she turned over to investigators.

“She had the moral courage to do what was right, and I did not," Rice said, saying his actions put her in an impossible position.

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Rice spent 37 years in the military and was most recently assigned to the U.S. Army War College’s Center for Strategic Leadership in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, the AP wrote.

His sentence in military court includes his dismissal from the Army after his confinement.

Apologizing to the Army, his family, friends and investigators, Rice said he took “full responsibility” and had brought discredit upon the Army.

Rice was arrested in 2013 after software installed on one of his computers made his criminal activity known, including a large number of images and displayed knowledge of and experience in trading child porn, U.S. District Judge Christopher Conner reportedly said.

He was fined $5,100 and will have to spend 10 years under supervision upon his release.

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