Navy SEAL Found Guilty of Catfishing Three Women
Most of us have heard the typical story of how someone had been catfished through online dating, and have dated someone who pretended to be someone else. It was usually because the person catfishing their victims either wanted money or sexy images of the person they were talking to. But what if you were accused of catfishing someone, and even though you didn’t do it no one believed you and you lost your job over it?
Aaron Howard used to be a Navy SEAL Team 6 member, who joined in the year of 2014. After he had joined this team two years later, he was awarded the Sailor of the Year Award. It was an honor for him to join such an elite team that was a part of eliminating Osama Bin Laden back in 2011. Aaron Howard was accomplishing many great things with his team and he felt welcome and secure in his ranking… until his team turned on him.
Military prosecutors accused him of catfishing three women and pretending to be two different people. They say that he pretended to be a nutritionist hired by the military and asked these three women to send sexy images to him so that he can better advise them in their fitness.
Howard claimed that he did not catfish these women, yet the Navy was punishing and humiliating him as soon as the investigation started. He stated that one of his duties assigned to him was cleaning the toilets as one of his punishments, yet he wasn’t even proven to be guilty at this point. If anyone showed that they were his friend and was on his side on the Navy SEAL team, they would be shunned from the team. He was hurt that he was part of an ultimatum to his friends who were just trying to stick up for him.
When the trial began, Waddington, his civil defense attorney, stated that the girls could not provide the nude images they claimed were sent to Howard. Germano, his military defense attorney, said that the prosecution wanted to charge Howard with an 18-month-long sentence and a dishonorable discharge.
However, the jury appreciated Howard’s service to the country so they charged him with 30 days in the brig and early medical retirement after he had said he needed medical treatment for his PTSD, hearing loss, and traumatic brain injury. He was also demoted to petty officer second class and has to forfeit $500 worth of pay for 3 months. He was still guilty of catfishing in the jury’s eyes, yet didn’t punish him to the fullest extent since he was a part of the navy.
Is Catfishing Illegal?
The act of pretending to be someone you’re not when you’re online dating is legal, so technically catfishing isn’t illegal. However, the acts of catfishing another person can lead to illegal activities, such as taking that person’s money or receiving nude images from a minor. Furthermore, it is not illegal to send and receive nude images from one adult to another. Once you are over eighteen years of age, you are able to send and receive images to other adults, even if you catfish someone else to do it.
According to the law of the country, Howard did not break any laws if he did do what he was accused of. He would’ve catfished three girls, all of whom were of legal age, and it would’ve been legal to receive their pictures since they were the ones who sent them to him. They consented in sending the pictures to Howard even if they thought he was someone else. It may not have been the right thing to do, but it wasn’t illegal to do so.
How He Was Able to Get Punished Through the Military
According to Article 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, Navy SEAL team members and other military personnel need to maintain good order and discipline within their branch. They are not allowed to perform any actions that could detract from the reputation of the armed forces. While this could be understandable, this rule could also be applied to so many actions a soldier performs if his command simply doesn’t like said soldier.
Also, how do we know that Howard actually catfished these women? Waddington states that authorities are chasing the wrong client and that his client is actually innocent. Howard was put on a polygraph twice to see if he was lying about his innocence, and he passed both times. There were also no nude photos on his cell phone of these three women he supposedly catfished. If there is no real proof that Howard did it, then how is he guilty of catfishing and why is he losing his title in the Navy? Waddington said it could be literally anyone from the SEAL team, and yet Howard was targeted. The reason why? No one knows… But if you have any thoughts on this case and what they think they should do with Howard, and what you feel Howard deserves, leave them below in the comments.