Sex Offender Allowed to Live at Hurlburt Field

A recently released convicted sex offender is living in the dorms at Hurlburt Field, and could be allowed to keep his active-duty status pending an internal review.

Airman Michael Anthony Armstrong Jr., 22, was arrested June 24, 2011, after he answered an Internet ad posted by the Pensacola Police Department in a sting operation.

After nearly a year in the Escambia County Jail, Armstrong pleaded no contest to felony attempted lewd or lascivious battery on a victim 12 to 15 years old.

He was released from jail May 16, 2012.

A Mary Esther resident was alerted to Armstrong's sex offender status when she received an email from a national database notifying her that he had moved within two miles of her home. Armstrong's home is listed as Simpson Hall, a dormitory at Hurlburt Field.

"It's absolutely ridiculous," said the woman, a mother of two young children who feared having her name published. "They get assistance for living out there. They get benefits."

Despite Air Force expectations that airmen adhere to "core values of integrity, service and excellence," there apparently are circumstances in which convicted felons are allowed to remain active duty.

Master Sgt. Kristina Newton, a Hurlburt Field spokeswoman, said that there was a chance Armstrong could be discharged, but that he could be allowed to stay on.

Discharges are administrative actions that are covered by the Privacy Act of 1974, according to Hurlburt. That means the Air Force's final decision on Armstrong will not be a public record.

Armstrong was active duty when he was arrested, according to the arrest report from the Pensacola Police Department.

He originally faced four felony charges after he responded to a Craigslist ad that said: "Help wanted, looking for help in physically describing the birds and the bees to a yung girl."

The ad was posted by a Pensacola police detective.

In a series of texts, Armstrong clarified his desire to be sexually active with a girl, who was represented to him as being 13 years old. He was arrested when he showed up at the address given, according to his arrest report.

He pleaded no contest and was sentenced to almost a year in prison, most of which he had already served while awaiting trial.

Spokespersons for the Secretary of the Air Force did not address specifics of Armstrong's case.

They responded to an emailed query from the Northwest Florida Daily News by repeating that they were committed to upholding the United Military Code of Justice.

When asked to describe the Air Force policy regarding allowing sexual offenders to remain in the military, they responded by email that: "The Air Force is committed to prevent, deter and prosecute sexual assault in its ranks" and that consequences may include "punitive discharge."

The ultimate decision lies with the installation's commander, according to the emailed response.

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