Former Fort Stewart soldier Lance Lightner, 24, was sentenced on Tuesday to 272 months in prison by Chief United States District Court Judge Lisa Godbey Wood following his guilty pleas to charges of receipt of child pornography and possession of child pornography, according to a press release sent Thursday.
Lightner’s prison term will be followed by a life term of supervised release. Lightner will also be required to register as a sex offender upon his release from prison. He pleaded guilty to the offenses on May 2, 2016, the release said.
According to authorities, agents with Fort Stewart’s Criminal Investigation Command found “child pornography and sexually-explicit texts with minors on active-duty Lightner’s cell phone,” the release said. “Later, forensic agents located at least 500 images containing depictions of child pornography on Lightner’s phone, including sexually explicit photographs Lightner had taken and shared over the internet of his infant daughter.”
After his arrest on related charges, Lightner was discharged from the Army, the release said, and included a quote from U.S. Attorney Edward Tarver:
“This defendant preyed on children. He now rightfully faces hundreds of months in a federal prison cell,” Traver said. “When he’s released, he’ll then be under the watchful eye of federal probation officers for the rest of his life. The U.S. Attorney’s Office will work hard with our state and federal law enforcement partners to make sure that sex offenders who prey on the innocent will end up where they belong, in prison.”
Lightner’s prosecution was the result of a joint investigation by the Southeast Georgia Child Exploitation Task Force and the Army-CID.
The case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, which is a nationwide U.S. Department of Justice initiative designed to protect children from online exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorney’s Offices, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as identify and rescue victims.
Assistant United States Attorneys Frederick W. Kramer (since retired) and Marcela C. Mateo prosecuted the case on behalf of the United States, the release said.