It's not easy to find out what issues are going on in the compound of the Guam National Guard and how the leadership handles problems involving sexual assault inside or outside the organization – until the issue spills over into the publicly available records.
On Monday, one such public record became very public. The FBI announced the arrest of a Guam Army National Guard soldier, Sgt. Jerry Thomas Guerrero II, that day while he was at work in the Guam Guard's main compound.
It was a shock that someone who had worn the uniform for nearly 10 years could be arrested by authorities on federal charges involving alleged child pornography.
The other matter that came as a surprise was that the defendant was still allowed to continue working in the Army National Guard.
This was Guerrero's second arrest in a sex assault case involving a minor. In June 2018, local authorities arrested him. In Superior Court of Guam records, he was accused of having had sex with a 14-year-old girl, allegedly having recorded the acts on video and subsequently posting the images on a social media platform.
He was granted temporary release from jail in the local case while it awaits resolution. But while that's within his rights, it's tough to grasp why the Guam Guard allowed him to return to work.
The Guam Guard has reasoned that the defendant has not yet been found guilty.
We question whether this is a fair application of the Guard policy on soldiers and airmen under a cloud of suspicion and facing criminal charges. We've seen a few other Guard soldiers and airmen being placed on leave and stripped of their paychecks while waiting for the outcome of their cases, cases that might be viewed by some as less egregious – including allegations involving recruitment or housing fraud.
It's also ironic that the same week the Guam Guard was publicly found to have kept the accused sergeant on the job, a member of the Navy's top brass in the Pentagon, Vice Adm. William Moran, had to step down while in line for the job of chief of naval operations – after he was called out for an alleged improper relationship with another Navy officer.
Does the Guam Guard have lower ethical standards than top military brass in the Pentagon?
After Guerrero's arrest Monday, Maj. Gen. Esther Aguigui, the adjutant general of the Guam National Guard, said, "There is no tolerance for depraved conduct, such as the sexual exploitation of minors, in the Guam National Guard."
So why was Guerrero found at work, in the Guard compound, when the FBI sought to arrest him? He was charged more than a year earlier in the Superior Court with second-degree criminal sexual conduct, child pornography, jurisdiction over an adult, sexting and illegal use of a computer or telecommunication device to disseminate prohibited materials involving a minor. Last time The Guam Daily Post reported on this case, he was still set to go to trial in October.
FBI Honolulu acting special agent in charge Rafael A. Riviere said Guerrero's arrest Monday "sends a powerful message to predators across the islands."
"The FBI's mission is to protect citizens, especially the most vulnerable members of our community – our children. We will be vigilant to help those who cannot protect themselves."
The Guam Guard, it seems, doesn't want to send that same message. Maybe its leadership didn't think the public would find out a defendant in a child sex assault case was still working in its compound.