A sailor doing time at the Miramar brig sought to get out early but was rejected by a military court, which ruled that he knowingly agreed to a lengthier sentence to seek treatment for sex and pornography addiction.
In a decision handed down late last month, the United States Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals in Washington, D.C. denied Information Systems Technician 3rd Class Ericson Johans Geronimo-Hernandez's request.
The appellate tribunal also held that he received adequate counsel when he pleaded guilty to indecent visual recording and possession of child pornography in a case that revealed he made a surreptitious video of his then-15-year-old half-sister in her bedroom after she showered.
Although the girl's mother later urged military authorities to spare Geronomino-Hernandez jail time, he also admitted to possessing about 1,000 images and 20 videos depicting other child pornography.
Geronimo-Hernandez's appeal shines a spotlight on the rarely discussed porn and sex addiction treatment program at Naval Consolidated Brig Miramar, a prison located on an air base best known to the public as the former home of the Navy's famed "Top Gun" school for fighter pilots.
A submariner from Puerto Rico, he was sentenced to four years in confinement at Miramar and reduction to the Navy's lowest enlisted rank.
He claims Capt. Ann K. Minami -- the military judge at Navy Region Northwest in Silverdale, Washington -- erred by giving him 48 months behind bars.
She based her sentence on an affidavit from the military's Sex Offender Treatment Program at Naval Consolidated Brig Miramar that stated a non-violent service member needed at least 45 months of confinement to complete the treatment.
Convicts with sentences of 30 to 45 months in prison need to voluntarily forfeit good conduct time or earned days in pretrial confinement to complete the program, she ruled.
Geronimo-Hernandez's struggle with pornography addiction and his long desire to get help loomed large throughout his case.
"I've been struggling with, like, a porn addiction," he told Minami in unsworn testimony. "I choose my behavior. I regret that I did it, but I don't want to do it anymore."
The question became whether Geronimo-Hernandez made an informed decision about what his call for help entailed. He came to consider the sentence far more "draconian" than was necessary or even routine in these types of cases and appealed, but the tribunal meeting in Washington, D.C. disagreed.
Writing on behalf of her two Marine justices, Appellate Senior Judge Navy Cmdr. Anne Y. Marks pointed out that Geronimo-Hernandez's maximum sentence for the recording crime could have been five years confinement, plus up to 10 years behind bars for possessing child pornography.
"Even in light of his half-sister's request that the military judge spare him incarceration, the appellant has failed to demonstrate that his sentence of four years is excessive," Marks wrote.
Geronimo-Hernandez's appellate attorney, Navy Cmdr. Brian L. Mizer, said that his client would challenge the ruling before the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces in Washington, D.C., the final appellate step in the military before the Supreme Court.
"A sentence is supposed to punish the offender for the offense that was committed. They shouldn't drag in these collateral issues, such as how long it would take to complete sex offender treatment," Mizer told The San Diego Union-Tribune by telephone.
Mizer said Geronimo-Hernandez likely would have drawn a sentence of two years in prison, with credited time for pretrial incarceration, if he hadn't asked to get help. By doing the right thing, he got penalized, Mizer argues.
Geronimo-Hernandez completed one sea tour aboard the ballistic missile submarine Kentucky before his arrest.
He's still imprisoned at Miramar but it's unclear if he's in the special program for sexual offenders.
This article is written by Carl Prine from The San Diego Union-Tribune and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.