An “honored” US Navy SEAL has been handed a 27-year jail term after admitting to several charges of sexual abuse against his own family members, including two minors.
A federal court in Norfolk ruled Monday that Gregory Kyle Seerden, 32, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, was guilty of sexually assaulting his own family members, including a 5-year-old girl.
The crime is punishable by a maximum sentence of 30 year in jail. Seerden would also pay $10,000 fine and serve another 25 years of supervised release on top of his jail term.
“Gregory Seerden victimized a child…As this prosecution makes clear, the United States will seek to hold accountable anyone who sexually exploits our most vulnerable citizens,” said Tracy Doherty-McCormick, the acting US attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.
The Navy began investigating Seerden last year, after one of his acquaintances accused him of sexually assaulting her.
According to court documents, the investigators found child pornography videos on the decorated soldier’s phone. Further investigations showed that Seerden had molested the 5-year-old while she slept, making at least four videos of his conduct.
A US government inspector has concluded that American forces in Afghanistan are ignoring gross violations of human rights by local security forces.
A Navy spokesman said Seerden had admitted that the child was a relative and he was sleeping in her room while spending the holidays with his family.
The Navy SEAL is also accused of molesting a 7-year-old girl relative in 2014. That allegation was investigated but charges were later dropped due to the mother’s reluctance to hold Seerden responsible. Navy investigator reopened the case in 2017.
Seerden’s lawyer said his client was molested as a child and that is why he did what he did to the children. His mother, however, said it was Seerden’s military history and in particular his deployments to Iraq that changed him.
The news comes amid official warnings by the Pentagon about growing sexual abuse within US military ranks.
According to official data, more than 20,300 reports of sexual assaults have been filed at American military installations worldwide over the past four years.