FALLON, Nev. (AP) – A former U.S. Army recruiter in Fallon was found not guilty of charges he produced pornography using two female minors interested in joining the military.
A district court jury deliberated for about 2 1/2 hours Thursday before clearing Richard Asher of one count of using a minor as a subject in producing pornography and one count of preparing, advertising or distributing pornography involving a minor.
The charges stemmed from a relationship Asher, 34, developed with two 17-year-old high school girls while he worked as an Army recruiter in Fallon in 2004.
In a written statement prepared for the Army’s investigation, Asher admitted to having sex with the girls and taking photos.
But defense attorney Kevin Karp told the jury that the girls sought out Asher and the sexual relationships were consensual. The girls often stopped by the recruiting office and left notes for Asher, he said.
“They said they pursued Sgt. Asher. Finally, he gave in and he had sex with them. It was their idea to have sex,” Karp said.
“It’s pretty obvious it was a victimless crime. I think the statute was designed to protect children, not 17-year-old nymphomaniacs, actually a term (one girl) used in her testimony. I don’t think the statute was designed to protect women like this,” he added.
While the Army determined Asher did not commit a crime, it immediately removed him from his recruiter position and banned him from the high school. He also was reduced in rank and fined.
Karp said Asher last year married one of the girls, who now is 20. She’s expecting the couple’s first child next month.
Churchill County Deputy District Attorney Ben Shawcroft accused Asher of committing a crime by meeting with the girls and taking photos of sexual acts.
“The facts are he was recruiting for the Army, he came to Fallon, he had two girls come to him, he rented the hotel room and he brought the camera,” Shawcroft said.
After Asher photographed the girls, he prepared a photo CD for each of them. Law enforcement authorities learned of the case after one girl’s mother found the CD in her room.
Asher, who lived in Dayton when he was arrested in May, has served in Iraq, Bosnia and Operation Desert Storm.
Jury foreman Daniel Koch said the jury was split at first.
“In the end, given the facts and all the circumstances of the case, the jury came to the consensus that was the most just decision,” Koch told the Lahontan Valley News & Fallon Eagle Standard newspaper.