Billy Miller Gets Child Porn Charge In Afghanistan: Family Says Army Soldier's Photos Are 'Innocent'
The family of an Illinois National Guard soldier said Friday that he's been charged with possession of child pornography in Afghanistan over innocent snapshots of a 4-year-old relative in a swimsuit.
The U.S. Army has charged Spec. Billy Miller of Galesburg, Ill., with possession of child pornography and a related charge of failure to obey an order that troops in Afghanistan not possess pornography.
Army spokesman Lt. Mary J. Pekas declined to discuss details of the case or evidence against Miller. She said the charge is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
Miller's unit returned to Illinois in August, according to the National Guard, but the Army said he remains in Afghanistan, awaiting the end of his case and possible court martial.
"Spec. Miller is currently on active duty and assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Co., 82nd Airborne Division, pending the conclusion of the investigation and any potential legal proceedings," the Army's media center in Bagram, Afghanistan, said in a brief, unsigned e-mail statement.
Miller's father, Rodney, said the Army won't discuss the case with the family. But he said his son has told him the charges stem from a handful of photos of the girl that the soldier's mother e-mailed to ease his homesickness.
"I can't believe that the Army's doing this to our son; it's unbelievable," Rodney Miller said from his home in Galesburg, about 55 miles south of Davenport, Iowa. "The Army and the government's telling us more or less that it's none of our business."
The pictures show the girl in a swimsuit playing in a pool and sitting on Billy Miler's pickup truck, according to the family. A small portion of one of the girl's buttocks is visible in one, Rodney Miller said.
Billy Miller, a mechanic in civilian life, was part of the Illinois Army National Guard's 33rd Infantry Brigade. About 3,000 members of the brigade went to Afghanistan in late 2008 and returned home last year.
The Millers say their son became close to the little girl after she was diagnosed with a serious illness while her own father was away for military training. The pictures were taken by Terri Miller and the girl's mother at the girl's birthday party last summer, Rodney Miller said.
The Army said any legal proceedings will happen in Afghanistan, but Rodney Miller hopes for some way to have his son tried in the United States if it comes to that. Anyone from his National Guard unit who can testify on his behalf isn't in Afghanistan, Miller said.
"If they court martial him in Afghanistan, he will be absolutely on his own," he said.