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Coast Guardsman sentenced after admitting attempts at sex with kids

Casey Grove

A 23-year-old Coast Guardsman based in the Southeast Alaska port of Sitka will serve time behind bars after admitting he tried to have sex with children.

Christopher Cooley, who had been assigned to a Coast Guard cutter as a fireman’s apprentice, pleaded guilty Friday during court martial proceedings in Juneau to three counts of attempted child sexual abuse, “failure to obey a lawful order for contacting a child after being ordered not to,” and possession of child pornography, the Coast Guard said in a written statement.

A Navy judge on loan from Washington state sentenced Cooley to a total of seven years in a California brig, but under his plea agreement, Cooley will not serve more than 50 months’ imprisonment. Cooley was given a “bad conduct” discharge and ordered to forfeit all of his pay.

Lt. Veronica Colbath, head of the Coast Guard’s public affairs in Alaska, would not say how law enforcement first learned about Cooley’s interest in children. The conduct for which Cooley was sentenced occurred in early 2012, and the military began investigating him in July of 2012, Colbath said. Cooley was arrested that December, she said.

According to the Coast Guard’s written statement, Cooley was jailed prior to the court martial this year “because he posed a creditable threat to the community.”

Colbath said she could not say if Cooley had actual physical contact with the three child victims, two in Alaska and one in California. Their ages were 11 to 15, Colbath said.

“The majority of the conduct and contact was via text messaging and phone calls,” Colbath said.

Contact Casey Grove at casey(at)alaskadispatch.com. Follow him on Twitter @kcgrove