ATLANTA — A former soldier of Fort Stewart was sentenced to 15 years in prison for producing child pornography, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
In addition, 28-year-old Aaron D. Sutherland will have to register as a sex offender for life after his release from prison. He will have no parole.
“Producing sexual assault material of children is an intolerable crime that will not go unpunished,” U.S. Attorney Peter D. Leary said in a release. “Law enforcement at every level will pursue justice when adults sexually entice, abuse or harm a minor.”
Special Agent in Charge Katrina Berger, who oversees Homeland Security Investigations in Georgia and Alabama, stated that Sutherland was able to "use the internet to assist him in exploiting an innocent child."
Court documents show that Sutherland admitted to communicating with a 13-year-old girl while he was on active duty at Fort Stewart back in Feb. of 2021. During that time, the DOJ said he enticed the girl to send multiple nude images and videos and asked to meet her to have sex.
Eventually, the girl's mother discovered the child messaging Sutherland in April of that year, after observing her acting strangely. The DOJ also noted that Sutherland stated the age of the victim in the messages to her. He was arrested in May of 2021 after the mother reported him to authorities.
The DOJ's statement also said Sutherland showed law enforcement a "secret image vault," where he saved all the pictures and videos he received from the girl.
In addition to the 15 years of prison, Sutherland was also sentenced to 25 years of supervised release and $250,000 restitution.