For most who earn the coveted Navy SEAL Trident, it serves as a symbol of a lifetime devoted to service over self, but for some, not even the honor and commitment of serving as a part of one of the most elite fighting forces in history is enough to offset their own personal dishonor, or to change the character of a man that is willing to victimize children.
According to court documents released on Thursday, former Navy SEAL Gregory Kyle Seerden is just such a man. Seerden, 32, will serve 27 years in federal prison, followed by 25 years under supervised release and pay a $10,000 fine after pleading guilty to charges of molesting a sleeping child and filming the encounter with his smart phone.
“Gregory Seerden victimized a child and used mobile technology to memorialize sexually explicit videos,” said Tracy Doherty-McCormick, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “As this prosecution makes clear, the United States will seek to hold accountable anyone who sexually exploits our most vulnerable citizens.”
That sentence may not be the end of it however. Seerden faces similar charges in San Diego following the reopening of an NCIS case that originated in the summer of 2014, when Seerden reportedly also filmed sexual abuse of a child on an iPhone. It is not currently clear why the case did not result in prosecution at the time, but based on the similarity to the case he pled guilty to, it seems likely that prosecution will move ahead now.
“Instead of being a protector, Seerden was a predator who attacked a sleeping five year old child,” said Cliff Everton, Special Agent in Charge of the NCIS Norfolk Field Office. “He is the antithesis of every value the military services hold dear.”
Seerden’s criminal behavior was discovered as police conducted a separate investigation into the SEAL turned felon, after a woman approached base security at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story in Virginia Beach to report that Seerden had sexually assaulted her in the Navy Gateway Inns and Suites. Law enforcement exercised a search warrant on Seerden’s property, including a forensic analysis of his iPhone. What investigators discovered was disturbing: at least 78 photographs and four videos of Seerden sexually molesting child as she slept.
“Agents later learned that Seerden took the videos with his iPhone, and that the minor victim was a five-year-old child known to Seerden. The videos graphically depict Seerden sexually abusing the child while the child sleeps,” according to the United States Attorney’s Office.
Other images of children engaged in sexual acts were also found on the phone, though police seem to believe Seerden had saved those photos from another source, rather than taking them himself.
At the time, Seerden was assigned to temporary duty in Virginia, on loan from SEAL Team One, based in Coronado, California.
Seerden’s attorney argued that he had been abused as a child, prompting him to continue the cycle of abuse, though his mother argued that it was actually his time as a Navy SEAL that led him astray. In a letter read to the court, Seerden’s mother blamed his experiences in combat for his abuse against women and children.
“After some rough times in his adolescent period, Kyle enlisted in the Navy. When he came back from Afghanistan he was hurting inside but still trying to be himself,” his mother, Jennifer Seerden, wrote in a letter to the court. “Some of his friends were lost and others severely injured and it seemed to really impact him. However, it was his experience in Iraq that I believe really changed him.”
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