A former U.S. Army colonel who once oversaw the branch's strategic war gaming division was sentenced Wednesday on child porn charges

By Chris Harris
December 29, 2016 03:25 PM
Credit: U.S. Army

A 58-year-old former U.S. Army colonel who once supervised the branch’s strategic wargaming division was sentenced Wednesday — weeping — to 12 years on child pornography charges, PEOPLE learns.

Robert Rice was also sentenced Wednesday to 10 years of supervised release, to begin once he is released from prison, according to a statement from the U.S. Department of Justice. He also must pay the court a fine of $5,100.

The sentence follows a five-day jury trial, which was held in May.

Rice was convicted of knowingly possessing child pornography from August 2010 through late January 2013, and receiving and distributing child pornography through the internet over five days in early 2013.

Federal prosecutors reportedly described him as shrewd, choosing to blame his wife for what he’d done: “The severity of this kind of crime cannot be overstated,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney James Clancy.

Rice, of Carlisle, Pennsylvania, is incarcerated at Fort Leavenworth Prison in Kansas where he is serving a 48-month sentence he received in October after pleading guilty to three pornography counts during a military court martial.

Wednesday’s federal sentence will run concurrent with Rice’s military sentence, according to the DOJ.

A court official tells PEOPLE that Rice wept at his sentencing. He also apologized for his behavior in open court, telling U.S. District Judge Christopher Conner he feels great shame from his crimes.

“When this began I didn’t see the human beings,” Rice reportedly said in court. “I came to realize that this is not a victimless crime. That each time an image is passed it renews the … emotional damage.”

Rice spent 37 years in the military but was discharged after he was arrested in 2013.

He was most recently assigned to the U.S. Army War College’s Center for Strategic Leadership in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

At trial, prosecutors said Rice had numerous images depicting children in sexual situations. Authorities further claimed he displayed knowledge of and experience in trading child pornography, a court official confirms.

But Rice’s defense team argued his older age put him at a low risk of recidivism. Rice had submitted to counseling after his arrest, which his attorneys insisted helped him conquer his urges.

Rice’s lawyers could not be reached for comment about a possible appeal.