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Sitka enlisted man accused in child porn case

An enlisted man at Coast Guard Air Station Sitka faces charges of possessing child pornography. The Coast Guard convened a hearing in Sitka on Wednesday to hear evidence in the case.

The charges against Petty Officer Second Class James Grover include possessing child pornography and making false statements to special agents.

On Wednesday, the Coast Guard convened what’s called an Article 32 hearing. It’s similar to a grand jury in civilian court. An investigating officer, in this case Cmdr. Michael Fazio from Newport, Rhode Island, hears evidence while attorneys for the government and defense question witnesses.

Wednesday’s witnesses included the Coast Guard special agent who investigated the case, a computer forensics expert who examined Grover’s laptop computer, a doctor who determined whether the images were of underage girls, and Grover’s estranged wife.

The government says it found about 90 images or videos on Grover’s computer that raised questions. The government also says Grover was receiving money from the Coast Guard at a rate set for married members, but not sending that extra money to his estranged wife and his daughter in Florida.

Grover is represented by a military attorney and private civilian counsel. They had questions about how the evidence was handled, and the investigator’s experience dealing with child pornography cases.

After both sides call witnesses, Fazio, the investigating officer, will make a recommendation on how to handle the case to Air Station Sitka Cmdr. Ward Sandlin. It’s up to Sandlin to decide if the matter is dropped, handled administratively, or if Grover proceeds to a court martial – the military equivalent of a trial.

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