This is seriously one of the most disturbing stories we’ve ever covered.
On Tuesday, Navy sailor Randall Tilton (pictured above) was sentenced to 210 years in federal prison for the sexual abuse of seven infants and toddlers. The New Hampshire native pleaded guilty in December to child pornography offenses related to his sexual abuse of two infants, as young as 4 months old, and five toddlers, most of whom were about 3 years old when Tilton started abusing them.
Another warning: graphic details ahead.
Over the course of eight years, Tilton violently raped the two infants and published videos he made of his vile acts to the dark web. At a BBQ, he took pornographic photos of the 4-year-old daughter of a Navy comrade and recorded videos of the 7-year-old daughter of a local woman he met on a dating app.
Investigators found more than 8,000 videos and photos of infants and toddlers being sexually abused in Tilton’s possession. Tilton confessed to Groton Town Police that he had assaulted his first victim when she was 6 months old, and had abused her over 300 times. Investigators obtained 35 videos and 66 images of that abuse over the course of several years. The abuse only ended when Tilton was arrested, according to prosecutors.
Prosecutors said Tilton’s rapes became more violent each time, and a video of his rape was viewed over 100,000 times on the dark web. Tilton — who was stationed at the Naval Submarine Base New London aboard the USS South Dakota as a machinists mate 1st class — was proud about his disturbing actions, too, publicly talking about how much he enjoyed what he did in forums on the dark web.
U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Meyer and government prosecutors called the case the worst of its kind they had ever seen. Before Meyer sentenced Tilton, parents of several of the victims spoke either via Zoom or in person at the federal courthouse in New Haven.
A father who addressed the court struggled to deliver a profanity-laced denunciation of Tilton. One mother described him as “a vile, inhuman creature,” while another said:
“I don’t wish you death, but a long life full of pain.”
A mother of another one of the victims said:
“I beg of you, your Honor, don’t ever let him out. He belongs in the general (prison) population, and I understand what that would mean for him and I don’t care.”
For his part, Tilton issued a statement in which he apologized to the victims. But the words of someone whose actions were so reprehensible meant little to the judge. Meyer told Tilton before pronouncing sentence:
“It’s not just the production of child pornography, the video, images, for your own satisfaction, which is not even a charge in this case. What really sets it apart is the scores and scores of hands-on acts of sexual abuse of seven children — much worse than hands on — that goes on for year after year. … And for some of these children, it’s rape, there’s no other word for it — rapes of children who knew you and who you knew could not complain.”
Meyer told Tilton he was disturbed that his choice of victims were “children under your complete whim and control,” and refused to be lenient because of Tilton’s military service, or by the fact he hasn’t been convicted of other crimes.
The judge said he wasn’t sure Tilton would be rehabilitated in prison, and feared that if the sailor were released in his 50s, he could still cause harm. He added:
“I also think about the peace of mind of the victims. I heard them loud and clear.”
Meyer agreed with prosecutors’ recommendation that Tilton serve his sentence at Federal Medical Center, Devens — a federal prison in Massachusetts for male inmates requiring specialized or long-term medical or mental health care. He also ordered that Tilton pay more than $900,000 in restitution to his victims.
In a 25-page sentencing memo filed with the court this month, Assistant U.S. Attorney Nancy V. Gifford described Tilton’s crimes as “among the most horrific seen in this district.” She wrote:
“While it is hard to imagine what would lead a person to sexually abuse any child, it is inconceivable that a person could be so inherently evil as to prey upon infants. Randall Tilton, however, is the personification of that very evil.”
Prosecutors said that Tilton also detailed his abuse — and how much he enjoyed it — in a letter from prison to someone he considers his grandfather. Gifford added:
“Tilton’s own words, captured in comments he made in forums on the dark web and chilling letters sent from prison, demonstrate that he reveled in the abuse and brutality he inflicted.”
It’s all so incredibly disturbing.
We hate to think of anyone spending their life in jail, but this man clearly doesn’t belong anywhere else. Our hearts ache for the victims and their families; hopefully the judge’s ruling on this case offers them some form of healing.
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