Camp Foster, Okinawa
Charges: Attempted Sexual Assault, Attempted Lewd Act on a Child, Conduct
Unbecoming an Officer
Result: NOT GUILTY of all charges except Conduct Unbecoming of an Officer,
time served plus approximately one month in confinement and no punitive discharge
Our client was one of nearly three dozen service members stationed in Okinawa,
Japan who were caught in an NCIS “To Catch a Predator” type
sting operation. In this operation, NCIS placed ads on Craigslist, social
media and online dating sites (all of which require the poster to be 18+)
posing to be a female looking to meet guys on the island. These ads will
typically feature language such as “New to the island and looking
for someone fun to meet, Soooo bored here” or words to that effect.
These ads will also feature a picture of a female who is of age and will
list an age which is over 18 years old.
Once service members would respond to the ad, the NCIS undercover “chatter”
will request that the chats be moved over to KiK messenger and the service
member and the chatter will start texting. In this particular case, the
chatter stated that she was 15 years old, but was sending actual photographs
of herself (she was over 21 years old) and our client quickly questioned
how old she really was. The chatter continued by providing a backstory
to our client which was incredibly unrealistic and our client simply did
not believe she was a minor. The texts between our client and the chatter
ranged from mundane topics but did not involve conversations about our
client having sex with the chatter, despite attempts to turn the conversation
sexual by NCIS. In fact, our client broke off all communications with
the chatter and stopped communicating with her.
Months later, our client was using Kik and sent a group messages out to
many of his contacts and NCIS responded to the message. However, the Kik
username was different and our client did not realize he was chatting
with the individual whom he earlier broke contact with. On this second
chat, that NCIS chatter was different, her persona was different, the
pictures she sent were of a different person (though still of female in
her 20’s) and importantly, she did not explicitly state her age.
During this conversation, NCIS tried repeatedly to turn the conversation
sexual and lure our client to meet the chatter at her home. Our client
did not, however, chat with her about having sex but did agree to meet
her at her “home.” Again, in this chat, the chatter never
explicitly stated her age and was sending our client actual photos of
herself – a female in her 20’s. Once our client arrived at
the purported home, which was a house staged by NCIS, he was immediately
apprehended and taken into custody.
After being arrested, our client provided a statement to NCIS that he did
not believe the person he was chatting with was as minor and that, regardless
of her age, he did not intend to have sex with the person he believed
to be chatting with. NCIS did not believe his story and he was placed
in pre-trial confinement to await trial.
Court martial lawyer Timothy Bilecki, along with UCSM attorney Capt Zach
Phelps investigated in detail the NCIS sting operation which was ongoing
in Okinawa. We learned, among other things, that NCIS had no written SOP
for their operations, that NCIS was not following all ICAC (Internet Crimes
Against Children) protocol, that NCIS was not properly cataloging and
retaining all of the chat logs, that NCIS was utilizing inexperienced
female Sailors (MA1 and MA2) as their chatters, that the NCIS chatters
had little to no prior experience or formal training in these types of
operations, that NCIS had a prior chatter who was reprimanded for misconduct
when conducting a prior TCAP operation (for having a sexual relationship
with the person she was chatting with after he was arrested – and
lying about it later), that NCIS was utilizing techniques which could
lead to entrapment, that NCIS was lying to the suspects after they were
arrested, and many other serious issues with the operation in general.
Mr. Bilecki utilized these failures on the part of NCIS to expose their
sting operation and put on a defense of entrapment, mistake of fact as
to age and lack of specific criminal intent. After a hard fought jury
trial, our client was the first in Okinawa to be acquitted by a jury of
the charges against him relating to the NCIS sting operation. He was,
however, found guilty of conduct unbecoming an officer – likely
for leaving work and showing up to the house (on Kadena, AFB) during duty
hours in uniform.
This case gained notoriety when, after the trial,
Mr. Bilecki utilized Facebook live to make comments about the verdict. This post was viewed by over 125,000 individuals in less than a week,
many of which were displeased with the manner in which NCIS was running
their sting operation and entrapping service members stationed in Okinawa.
NOT GUILTY of all charges except conduct unbecoming and officer.