U.S. Air Force Photo by Staff Sgt. Corban Lundborg
- A member of the elite unit SEAL Team 6 has been charged with impersonating multiple people to get access to nude photos of women.
- He is said to have used a spoofing program to send text messages from fake phone numbers to people at Naval Special Warfare Development Group in an effort to procure the photos.
- Petty Officer 1st Class Aaron Howard is expected to stand trial in a general court martial, though his lawyer, who is seeking to have the case thrown out, says Howard plans to plead not guilty.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
A member of SEAL Team 6 has been charged with impersonating multiple people in text messages from spoofed phone numbers to solicit nude photos of women, The Virginian-Pilot reported Friday.
Petty Officer 1st Class Aaron Howard is expected to stand trial in a general court-martial at Naval Station Norfolk.
According to The Pilot, the SEAL, who was reportedly named Sailor of the Year in 2016, is charged with pretending to be multiple people and is said to have used a phone-number spoofing program, which allows the user to make calls or send messages from any number of their choosing, to message people at Naval Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU) in order to get the photographs.
Howard — who reportedly received a number of medals, including valor awards — is planning to plead not guilty to all charges, his attorney, Michael Waddington, told reporters. Vowing to fight until the end, Waddington is trying to have the case thrown out.
Waddington argues that prosecution’s case against Howard has no merit, given that investigators did not find incriminating photos in Howard’s possession and that he passed two polygraph tests, The Virginian-Pilot reported.
The attorney, who filed a motion claiming unlawful command influence, also said the Navy made up charges that do not exist in the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The charges against the SEAL apparently fall under General Article 134, "all conduct of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces."
INSIDER was unable to connect with Howard’s lawyer prior to publication.
News of Howard’s case comes at a time when the SEALs are being called out left and right for misconduct.
Several members of SEAL Team 7 were recently thrust into the spotlight in the high-profile war crimes trial of Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher, who was ultimately cleared of murder charges but was found guilty of taking an unlawful photo with the dead body of a prisoner of war he was accused of stabbing to death.
That trial wrapped up earlier this month, but a report came out earlier this week about rampant drug abuse, specifically of cocaine, within SEAL Team 10, and on Wednesday, the commander of special operations in Iraq sent SEAL Team 7’s Foxtrot platoon home early over alcohol abuse and sexual-assault allegations, as well as the SEALs’ unwillingness to cooperate with investigators.
- A Navy SEAL in the platoon being kicked out of Iraq for misconduct was reportedly accused of raping a fellow service member
- The US just awarded a billion-dollar contract for a critical anti-submarine tool that may soon be in short supply
- Close analysis of Kim Jong Un’s new nuclear-missile submarine reveals it’s bound for a suicide mission