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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Washington

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, July 18, 2022

Veteran sentenced to 18+ years in prison for sexual assault on a child left in his care

Sex abuse occurred repeatedly on Army bases in Hawaii and Washington

Tacoma – A 40-year-old Army veteran who most recently was a civilian resident of Joint Base Lewis McChord, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to 225 months in prison for abusive sexual contact with a child under 12, and sexual abuse of a child, announced U.S. Attorney Nick Brown.  Shawn Matthew Wilcher is required to register as a sex offender and will be on lifetime supervised release following his prison term.  At the sentencing hearing U.S. District Judge Benjamin H. Settle said the crime, “was horrendously serious… the victim endured repeated violence over a long period of time…. She endured unimaginable terror.”

“This type of horrific abuse of a young child cannot be explained or justified, despite whatever demons Mr. Wilcher battles from his military service.  His crimes have created ripples of destruction many times over,” said U.S. Attorney Nick Brown.  “He will get treatment for the PTSD he blames for his conduct, but studies indicate this young victim will suffer long-lasting trauma throughout her life – trauma that is difficult, if not impossible, to remedy.”

According to records filed in the case, Wilcher is the spouse of an active-duty enlisted Army soldier.  Between October 2015 and January 2018, Wilcher resided with his spouse on Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii.  Between October 1, 2018, and May 21, 2019, Wilcher and his spouse resided on Joint Base Lewis McChord (JBLM).  Wilcher is a veteran himself and served tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.  In his plea agreement, Wilcher admits that he sexually molested a young child left in his care during his residence at both military bases.  The abuse came to light in May 2019, when the victim disclosed the abuse to a friend who reported it to a school counselor.  Army Criminal Investigative Division (CID) and the FBI immediately investigated the case.  Wilcher has been in custody since his arrest on May 25, 2019.

Charges in the District of Hawaii and the Western District of Washington were both resolved by Wilcher’s guilty plea on August 23, 2021.  Wilcher will be on lifetime supervision following his prison term and will be required to register as a sex offender.

The case was investigated by the FBI and Army CID.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Grady Leupold and Matt Hampton for the Western District of Washington, and Morgan Early for the District of Hawaii.

Topic(s): 
Project Safe Childhood
Violent Crime
Contact: 
Press contact for the U.S. Attorney’s Office is Communications Director Emily Langlie at (206) 553-4110 or Emily.Langlie@usdoj.gov.
Updated July 18, 2022