Valdosta, Georgia: A soldier stationed at Fort Stewart has pleaded guilty to a charge of production of child pornography and is now awaiting sentencing on April 28, 2022.
28-year-old Aaron D. Sutherland faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison, at least 5 years of supervised release and will be required to register as a sex offender for life.
The maximum possible sentence would be 30 years in prison with a lifetime of supervised release and a fine of $250,000.
According to the statement from the United States Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Georgia, there is no parole.
"Parents must remain vigilant and monitor whom their children are communicating with on their cell phones and on social media because online predators are lurking," U.S. Attorney Peter D. Leary stated. "Our office- working alongside federal, state and local authorities- will pursue significant penalties for any adults who sexually entice, abuse or harm a minor."
Court documents disclosed that Sutherland began communicating with the 13-year-old girl in February 2021 while he was stationed on active duty at Fort Stewart in Valdosta, Georgia.
By April 2021, the girl had already been persuaded to send Sutherland "multiple nude images and videos of a sexual nature." Those images, and communications from Sutherland asking to meet the girl and engage in sexual activity were discovered by the girl's mother after she confiscated her phone when she noticed her daughter was acting "strangely."
Sutherland was arrested on May 3, 2021 and provided investigators with access to his "secret image vault" where he has saved the images and videos of the girl.