GROTON, CONN. — A military judge sentenced a Connecticut-based Navy hospital corpsman on Tuesday to 22 years in prison for sexually assaulting minors and possessing and producing child pornography.
The Day of New London reported that Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Tristan Thomas, 31, of Cincinnati had pleaded guilty to 22 of 26 counts against him under the military’s criminal code. Under a pretrial agreement, the full sentence of 70 years will be suspended after 22 years.
His two-day court-martial was held at the Naval Submarine Base at Groton, where he served aboard the USS Springfield.
Most of the charges related to a two-year sexual relationship Thomas acknowledged with a girl that began when she was 14, and a three-year relationship with a 15-year-old. There were other victims between the ages of 13 and 16 in the case.
One victim and her father addressed the court. The girl said Thomas took advantage of her and “took my childhood from me” at a time when she was having problems at home and school. She said she later attempted suicide.
Thomas apologized to her, her family and the other victims. He said he was sexually assaulted in his youth, but said that didn’t excuse his behavior. He said being away from his own 5-year-old son “is the cross I will have to bear for causing pain to so many other children and grief for their families.”
The military prosecutor has asked that Thomas be sentenced to life without parole. His defense lawyer said Thomas is “not a monster” and sought a 13-year sentence.
Also speaking on Thomas’ behalf were two people he served with on the Springfield and his father, mother and sister.
Thomas has served 11 years in the Navy, including 18 months in Afghanistan. He will be demoted to the lowest pay grade and dishonorably discharged.