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Religious program specialist pleads guilty to sexually exploiting a minor

Aug. 7, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
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A religious program specialist who the Navy classified as a deserter last October pleaded guilty to sexual exploitation of a minor Monday and will face sentencing in December.

Religious Program Specialist 2nd Class (FMF) Matthew Staszak also pleaded guilty to traveling with the intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct and failure to appear in court during the hearing in U.S. District Court in Benton, Ill., The Associated Press reported.

Staszak, 30, allegedly had sexual relations with a teenage girl from southern Illinois from February 2011 through May of last year, the AP reported. He is also accused of filming intercourse with the teenager.

He joined the Navy in 2001, according to Navy personnel records, and was stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, S.C., from August 2011 until Oct. 4, 2012, when he was classified by the Navy as a deserter. He remains in that status and has not faced court-martial, records show; the Navy was not immediately able to provide details on his current status.

A religious program specialist is an enlisted assistant to a Navy chaplain who helps with logistical and administrative support in addition to providing physical security to chaplains in combat zones, said Lt. Greg Raelson, a Navy spokesman. An RP’s duties do not require religious credentials.

He has been in jail without bond since his arrest in June, the AP reported. Sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 6.

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