Within a month, two different soldiers from Fort Drum have been arrested by investigators with the Oneida County Child Advocacy Center on charges of sexual contact with the same child — a 13-year-old girl from Rome.
Alexander Calixto, 21, originally of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, was charged March 20 with felony second-degree rape, according to a release from the Child Advocacy Center.
Rome police were first alerted that the 13-year-old was missing around 12:30 p.m. March 19. Police found her in a hotel with Calixto around 8 p.m. and notified the Child Advocacy Center, the release states. Child Advocacy Center Director Derrick O’Meara said their investigators later learned the two had arranged to meet through a dating site and other social media sites.
In an earlier incident, 19-year-old Ethan Daubenspeck, originally of Furlong, Pennsylvania, was arrested Feb. 27 and charged with felony second-degree criminal sexual act after allegedly exchanging information online with the 13-year-old and meeting her at her home, according to a prior news release.
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Fort Drum public affairs officer Lt. Col. Josh Jacques said soldiers under investigation are suspended from any favorable action until their case is concluded.
«Nothing positive could come out at this time until an investigation is done,» he said.
Julie Halpin, of the public affairs office for Fort Drum, said because these cases happened off-base they would not be subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, unless the Oneida County District Attorney’s Office relinquishes the case to the military.
Oneida County District Attorney Scott McNamara said his office would be prosecuting both cases.
How the military handles a charged soldier’s career depends on each case; if a soldier is incarcerated and not working, they would go into an unpaid status until their court date, Halpin said.
«They still get their due process,» she said.
Daubenspeck was released on bail sometime after his arrest, and Calixto was released March 25. Both have had their driving privileges suspended and will be confined to base pending the outcome of the investigation, Jacques said.
There is no known connection between the soldiers, but in both cases the victim said she was 20 and used filters to look older on apps like Tinder and Snapchat, O’Meara said.
«But when you see this child, you see this child was obviously not a 20-year-old,» he said.
The current age of sexual consent in New York is 17.
The use of social media and online dating sites are a factor in many of the cases the Child Advocacy Center investigates, and nearly all cases involving teenage victims have some element of online communication, O’Meara said. The effects include not only emotional harm, but even incidents where a child may arrange to meet with someone and then go missing.
«There are definitely predators out there, and those children are exposing themselves to those predators,» he said. «And that’s a problem that we are trying to fix.»
O’Meara advises parents speak with their children about the risks of speaking to strangers online or exchanging other information.
«The best place to start is to have those conversations with your children before this starts,» he said.
Do you need help?
Oneida County Child Advocacy Center: 315-732-3990
New York State Child Abuse Hotline: 800-342-3720
RAINN National Child Abuse Hotline: 800-4-A-CHILD (422-4453)
RAINN National Sexual Assault Hotline: 800-656-HOPE (4673) or online at online.rainn.org
H. Rose Schneider covers public safety, breaking and trending news for the Observer-Dispatch. Email Rose at [email protected].
This article originally appeared on Observer-Dispatch: 2 Fort Drum soldiers arrested in Rome NY in child sexual abuse case