JUNEAU, Alaska — A Coast Guardsman from Belfast was convicted by a military judge Thursday of committing indecent acts with a child under 16 and of making a false official statement.
Chief Petty Officer Benjamin L. Sylvester, 43, was sentenced to seven years confinement, a dishonorable discharge, total forfeitures of all pay and allowance and a reduction in rank by the military judge during a general court martial in Alaska, according to a press release issued by the U.S. Coast Guard. Because of a pretrial agreement, Sylvester will be confined for three years with four years suspended.
The abuse of the child took place in 2004, when Sylvester was stationed in Maine, and the allegations were brought forward to authorities by the victim in November 2012. Coast Guard Investigative Service agents from Maine, Alaska and Virginia conducted the investigation, according to the press release.
“The Coast Guard remains resolute in our commitment to the prevention, investigation and prosecution of sexual assault crimes and to ensuring that military justice is conducted in a timely, objective, and fair manner,” said Lt. Cmdr. John Cashman, a Coast Guard legal spokesperson. “This … crime occurred nearly a decade ago; however, once notified, the criminal investigators, prosecutors, and victim support staff worked diligently to bring it to resolution.”
Sylvester, who previously was stationed in Kodiak, Alaska, will serve his imprisonment at Naval Consolidated Brig Miramar in Miramar, Calif.