West Point cadet Ricky Patrick Hester of Granger, Indiana, is on trial on charges of distributing child pornography, the AP reports. Hester was due to graduate from West Point in 2014.
Hester has pleaded not guilty and opening statements are scheduled for Tuesday morning in the U.S. District Court in White Plains.
Hester was arrested on the West Point campus for possession and distribution of child pornography in December 2013. Hester was 23 years old at the time of his arrest.
In a Department of Justice press release it states, “From at least as early as February 2013, and up to on or about September 29, 2013, on a number of occasions, Hester possessed and distributed images and videos containing child pornography.”
Receiving or distributing child pornography carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison and a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. Possession of child pornography carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. Both counts also carry a maximum fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense, the press release states.
Prosecutors allege that Hester sent videos that showed young boys engaged in explicit sexual activity to other Internet users. They say they have statements from Hester acknowledging to Homeland Security agents that he sent and received child porn, the AP reports.
The December 2013 press release states, “When Hester was questioned in his barracks yesterday, he admitted that he sent and received numerous images and videos containing child pornography using a private email account.”
In court papers, Hester said that agents did not read him his rights or allow him to bring his attorney.
His lawyer failed to get the statements suppressed. The judge said Hester was not in custody when the statements were made.
Hester has been on administrative leave since his arrest.