Last Friday, February 7, a member of the Navy’s SEAL Team 6 was convicted of catfishing three women and seeking their nude photographs. Petty Officer 1st Class Aaron Howard was sentenced to 30 days in a military prison besides being fined $500 equal to three months’ pay. His rank was also reduced to that of petty officer second class, the Daily Mail reported.
Prosecutors alleged during a court-martial at Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia, that Howard used a text-messaging app to create a fake phone number and send messages to women — a practice popularly known as “catfishing” — since 2017. In one of the cases, Howard was accused of impersonating a woman dietician hired by Naval Special Warfare Development Group to get women to send him nude photos.
The women included two civilians and an aircrew survival equipmentman second class, the report added.
Howard’s attorney Michale Waddington, however, argued that no naked photos were ever found on any of the sailor’s devices and added the former also passed two polygraph tests. He also said whoever sent the nasty messages said they were based in San Diego and an effort was on to indicate that a member of the SEALs could be the catfisher.
According to a report in the Virginian-Pilot, Howard was originally charged with receiving nude photographs but they were dismissed. The Navy Times reported on the other hand that Howard sought medical care for post-traumatic stress disorder, hearing loss and brain injury.
Howard, who joined the Navy in 2004, has been a man of reputation as he was named the SEAL Team 6’s Sailor of the Year in 2016 and received a Bronze Star with Valor for combative action. He served aboard the USS John Hall for a few years before training to become a SEAL.
The Navy SEAL made the headlines recently for the wrong reason after retired special warfare operator Edward Gallagher was acquitted of war crimes while being convicted of discrediting the armed forces. Even President Donald Trump earned a backlash for reversing Gallagher’s demotion.