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Soldier charged after e-mailed pictures from home

Chris Williams8 On Your Side Reporter
January 14, 2010

GALESBURG, Illinois - Tonight a Quad City area soldier is in Afghanistan being forced to stay to face charges connected to pictures his mother sent to him. The mother says the pictures were designed to ease the homesickness of life on the warfront but she had no idea they would lead to a child pornography investigation and months of wondering whether the accusations would bring charges. 8 On Your Side Reporter Chris Williams looked into the case.

Inside the Galesburg home decorated with two blue stars the Millers worry for their soldier son's safety. He's not in the hands of the enemy but these days they feel the U.S. Army has become anything but an ally.

"I've been told it's none of your business", said Rodney Miller, "that it was 'Army matters' and it was none of our business."

Specialist Billy Miller was in Afghanistan with the Galva based 33rd Infantry Brigade of the Illinois National Guard. In September we captured the unit's happy homecoming but Billy was left behind because of pictures his mother e-mailed.

"You have no clue how it eats me up", said a crying Terri Miller. "I blame myself every day, every day, if I wouldn't have sent the pictures he would be home."

In August the military began what it called a "child pornography investigation" into what the family calls "harmless pictures of a little girl". The pictures show her playing in a swimming pool and posing on Billy's truck and inside of a home. One we did not show on television shows her standing in the water with part of her buttocks exposed from her bathing suit.

Billy's girlfriend Melissa Fox defended the pictures. "Anyone that has a kid knows what it's like to have these pictures. They are gonna realize that they are pictures, it's not child pornography."

The child is a relative whom the family says Billy treated as his own child when the girl was diagnosed with cancer as her father went through boot camp. Her father told us he can't believe the charges, especially since they're on other family computers and on Facebook pages and no one else has been investigated.

Billy talked to us from Afghanistan where he's working with another unit despite his situation. He tried to explain the humor behind the pictures. "Personally Chris, she's the biggest 4 year old 'Tom-Boy' you'd ever want to meet."

But military leaders aren't laughing and, for months, Billy and his parents claim they were kept in the dark on his status by the Army. They even contacted a congressman and his staff said they had few answers.

A day after the Illinois National Guard told us they knew of no charges an Army official e-mailed me and said Miller was officially charged with "failure to obey a General Order" and "possession child pornography" on January 5th. It was the first time the family says they'd heard he was officially charged with a crime.

"I feel he is a prisoner of something I sent to him", said Terri, "and I can't do nothing for him."

The Army says Billy will stay in Afghanistan until he faces court martial or there are other recommendations. The family is worried for Billy's mental health. They've noticed changes that they blame on the months of not knowing and spending nearly 17 months in Afghanistan. They hope he can receive the help he needs soon and hope it comes on American soil.

Click to view image: '0b6d7b8e5a12-282679854_b078abd881.jpg'

Added: Jan-18-2010 Occurred On: Jan-13-2010
By: gregory_peckory
Afghanistan, News
Tags: soldier, afghanistan, pictures, mother, child pornography,
Location: Galesburg, Illinois, United States (load item map)
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