Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Airman pleads guilty to distributing child porn, other charges; sentencing hearing starts today

By Erin Prater Updated: January 21, 2014 at 8:02 pm

A Peterson Air Force Base airman pleaded guilty Tuesday to distributing pornographic pictures of toddlers, having cybersex with a teenage girl and attempting to strangle his wife.

A military judge accepted the plea of Senior Airman Czachery Rike, a firefighter with the 21st Civil Engineer Squadron, in an on-base courtroom.

Rike faces up to 102 years and six months of confinement, but will likely serve less due to a pretrial agreement. The sentencing hearing is expected to continue Wednesday.

On Tuesday morning, Rike, 30, entered his plea to three of four charges brought against him, including exposing his genitals via electronic communications technology to a child under the age of 16, possessing and distributing child pornography, and assaulting his wife.

The incidents took place between 2009 and 2013, according to prosecutors.

The fourth charge - committing forcible sodomy against an adult without consent - was dropped per the pretrial agreement.

The firefighter has been held at the Teller County jail since May 31, when a commander ordered him into pretrial confinement for violating court orders not to use a computer or have contact with minors.

On Tuesday, Rike explained his actions to the judge.

Rike said he has viewed adult pornography for much of his life, and started viewing child pornography in recent years after striking up an online conversation with a woman who provided him with incest-related porn.

"There is absolutely no excuse for what I did," Rike said tearfully.

Rike was arrested by the Colorado Springs Police Department in January of last year on suspicion of sexual exploitation of a child. His arrest was one of 12 made by Colorado Springs police after an eight-month multiagency investigation into online child pornography.

Rike was released four days later from the El Paso County Criminal Justice Center on $10,000 bond.

Charges were initially filed in civilian court but dismissed after it was agreed that the Air Force would exercise jurisdiction in the case.

Rike was ordered not to use computers or have contact with minors, the military judge said Tuesday.

From February to March of last year, Rike underwent 28 days of in-patient treatment at The Meadows, a Wickenburg, Ariz., center specializing in the treatment of sex addiction. That treatment was paid for by the Air Force, the judge said Tuesday.

Upon his return to Colorado Springs, Rike violated court orders by purchasing a tablet computer at Best Buy and contacting a teenage girl, despite continuing to receive treatment on base. He was subsequently ordered into pretrial confinement, the judge said.

From 2012 to 2013, Rike acquired more than 400 child porn images, some of which showed toddlers engaged in sexual activity. The FBI and The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children assisted in the identification of the children, some of whom are currently as young as 4. The children are scattered throughout the United States and Europe, the judge said.

During that time, Rike also engaged in an online sexual relationship with a Georgia girl whom he knew to be 13 or 14 at the time. He sent sexually explicit pictures of himself to her, including a picture of himself in his firefighter uniform with his genitals exposed. He asked her to send pictures of herself masturbating, he said Tuesday.

Pornography use had often been a point of contention in his marriage, and he sometimes responded violently when his wife confronted him about it, Rike told the judge Tuesday.

On various occasions he grabbed his wife's arm, slapped her in the face, strangled her, and dragged her across the kitchen floor by her ankle, he said.

"I had no reason to be mad at my wife during any of the incidents," Rike told the judge Tuesday. "I know that I was mad at myself and took my anger out on her."

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