A 31-year-old Marine veteran was recently sentenced to more than 28 years in prison after pleading guilty to sexually molesting a 3-year-old child with another adult male.

Former Marine Sgt. Michael Hamby Jr. was sentenced in the federal court in Southern California on April 4, according to court documents. His nearly three-decade sentence will be followed by 20 years of supervised release.

Hamby and his co-defendant, Elijah Alexander Vasquez, originally were arrested in 2019 for incidents described in the indictment and other court documents that took place in October 2016 while Hamby was stationed at Camp Pendleton, California.

The pair emailed each other about their “mutual sexual interest in children and arranged to meet in person to engage in sexual activity with a 3-year-old child,” according to a U.S. Attorney’s Office release.

The acts went beyond email and the pair pleaded guilty to enticement of a minor and that they did “persuade, induce, entice and coerce” the child to engage in sexual activity.

“The lengthy sentence issued by the court reflects the horrific and depraved nature of Hamby’s crimes,” said U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman. “Following an NCIS investigation that spanned two countries, this prosecution ensures Hamby will face the consequences of his actions and the community will be protected from future harm.”

Confiscated hard drives and devices also revealed child pornography in their possession.

“The record reflects Hamby also advertised the child as available to others and expressed an intent to engage in sexual games with two other children, ages 4 and 8,” according to the prosecutor’s statement.

Hamby enlisted in the Marine Corps in 2009 at age 18 and re-enlisted in 2013 at the end of his first contract. He deployed to Afghanistan twice and later received an honorable discharge, according to court documents.

In his sentencing documents, Hamby’s attorney noted his client’s remorse and efforts at rehabilitation that he’s sought since being taken into custody for a court-martial he received from the Marine Corps for the same incident.

“During his first deployment, he was in active combat,” according to court documents. “He watched friends die and those losses have stayed acutely with him. He suffers from PTSD.”

Hamby served as an infantry squad leader and was awarded the National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Medal and a Combat Action Ribbon, according to court documents.

When arrested in May 2019, the federal judge ordered that Hamby be detained without bail, categorizing him as “dangerous” and a “flight risk.”

“The world is a safer place for children now that Hamby has been sentenced to prison for his heinous crimes,” said Special Agent in Charge Michael Pierce of the NCIS Marine West Field Office.

Court records show he was convicted in 2017 of attempted rape of a child. It is unclear from the record if that resulted from the 2016 incident for which he was court-martialed and then charged and sentenced in federal court.

In federal custody from 2019 to the present date, Hamby pleaded guilty to the federal charges in May 2021. In his sentencing filings, he requested a sentence of 20 years, which is what his co-defendant Vasquez received.

Instead, the judge sentenced him to 28 years. He has requested to be placed in a federal facility that offers rehabilitation programs designed for sex offenders.

Family members and friends wrote letters to the court in support of Hamby’s chances for recovery and a post-prison life.

“We will support him throughout his time in custody,” his mother wrote in a letter in court documents. “We plan to move to where he is sent. We will support him after.”

Todd South has written about crime, courts, government and the military for multiple publications since 2004 and was named a 2014 Pulitzer finalist for a co-written project on witness intimidation. Todd is a Marine veteran of the Iraq War.

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