Coast Guard officer charged with posession of child pornography

d9CLEVELAND – Coast Guard Lt. Sean Barnhill was charged by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio with accessing, possessing, and distributing child pornography in violation of Title 18 U.S. Code Section 2252A.

Barnhill was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for conduct that occurred off-duty on his personal computer. The Coast Guard Investigative Service continues to assist the FBI with their investigation.

Barnhill was assigned to the Coast Guard 9th District command center in Cleveland when the alleged misconduct was investigated. He has since been reassigned to a different position where he does not have access to classified or sensitive materials.

“The charges against Lieutenant Barnhill, if proven, suggest a broad deviation from our Coast Guard core values of honor and respect,” said Rear Adm. Fred Midgette, commander of the Coast Guard 9th District. “We continue our cooperation with the Department of Justice to ensure a comprehensive investigation and a fair trial.”

If convicted, the defendant’s sentence will be determined by the court after a review of factors unique to this case, including the defendant’s prior criminal record, if any, the defendant’s role in the offense, and the characteristics of the violation.

An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

By Coast Guard policy, the Coast Guard will defer any decision to prosecute until after the Department of Justice completes its prosecution.

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