A former United States senior airman has been sentenced to a 15-year prison term for sexually abusing two South Korean orphan boys and possessing child pornography while stationed in South Korea.
Robert Kelgard’s case has prompted new community guidelines at Kunsan Air Base in South Korea where he was stationed between 2012 and 2013.
Kelgard was convicted by a court-martial in April 2016, court documents revealed.
In an interview with Yonhap News Agency, 8th Fighter Wing base commander Col. John Bosone referred to Kelgard’s crimes as “heinous and despicable.” His acts have led to his demotion, dishonorable discharge from the Air Force, 15 years of military imprisonment, and total forfeiture of pay and allowance.
“As soon as the United States Air Force investigators stationed at Kunsan Air Base were made aware of the incidents, they, with Korean National Police, immediately and aggressively investigated the allegations, and Kelgard was militarily prosecuted for his crimes,” the commander was quoted as saying.
“This is a very shameful past moment for Kunsan Air Base and our community,” he said.
He further noted that the “predator’s” criminal offenses are not indicative of U.S. service members who serve in the base under an alliance treaty between South Korea and the U.S.
Kelgard was put under investigation for an unrelated incident in 2014 while stationed at Kadena Air Base in Japan.
When investigators searched his computer hard drive at least 41 child pornography videos were found. Kelgard’s prior posts, including his assignment at the Kunsan Air Base, were then included in the probe.
With help from South Korean authorities, the Air Force investigators looked into his previous contact with two South Korean boys. Kelgard was then found to have made “inappropriate sexual contact” with the boys on and off base.
He pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography and molesting the victims in 2016.
The base is now implementing a more intensive background check of all unit personnel who volunteer to spend time with South Korean residents near the base.
As for the base programs that involve South Korean minors under the age of 18, chaperones will be required to closely monitor their interactions.
All members of the 8th Fighter Wing personnel are also now required to complete the annual interactive training program called Green Dot Training. The program teaches airmen to “intervene and prevent situations of sexual and domestic violence, abuse and stalking.”
There are currently 28,500 American troops stationed in South Korea which operates in consultation with the South Korean government.
Featured Image via Kunsan Air Base Website