A case involving an autistic Marine at Camp Pendleton raises questions about the Marine Corps' recruitment process, and whether recruiters are going after less desirable candidates to meet enlistment goals.
Pvt. Joshua Fry pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography and received a 3-year suspended sentence and a bad-conduct discharge.
The Marine from Orange County, Calif., admitted during his court-martial to downloading dozens of lewd images of children. Fry, 21, could have been sentenced to 42 years in prison. Instead he'll attend a 42-day inpatient program for sex offenders and move to New Mexico to take part in a voluntary program for sex offenders.
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Fry's plea bargain, approved Monday, will allow him to leave the brig by the end of the week.
The Marine Corps is investigating how Fry was even allowed to enlist given his history of autism. Court documents show Fry's recruiter knew he was autistic and had spent 15 months in a court-ordered stay for psychologically troubled youth, according to the North County Times.
Fry bought a second phone and laptop and continued to download child porn after the criminal investigation was launched last year.
The fraudulent enlistment charge stems from Fry's failure to tell his recruiter he had undergone counseling for possessing child pornography five months before he joined the Marine Corps, the paper reported.
Prosecutors wanted Fry to spend two more years in the brig but Fry's attorney urged the judge to allow Fry to seek treatment. In a statement read by his attorney, Fry said that he, "never realized I had such a problem. I want to succeed in overcoming these inappropriate urges. I am sorry for what I have done."