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An Ellsworth airman was convicted of child sexual offenses Thursday afternoon and could be penalized with dishonorable discharge and lengthy prison time.

Staff Sgt. Jason Cherry, of the 28th Communications Squadron, was found guilty in a military trial of sexual assault and sexual abuse of a child, Ellsworth Air Force Base’s public affairs office said in response to a Journal inquiry.

Cherry’s criminal charges carried four specifications of the offenses, according to a document provided by the public affairs office. It states he committed “lewd” and “sexual” acts against an underage female between November 2013 and December 2015.

During the earliest instance cited, the girl was younger than 12; in the most recent, she was younger than 16. The offenses occurred at or near Ellsworth air base and Whiteman air base in Missouri, according to the document.

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Cherry’s general court-martial, held at Ellsworth, started Tuesday. Its eight-member panel, comparable to a jury in civilian court, began deliberating around 12:30 p.m. Thursday, said Ellsworth spokesman Tech. Sgt. Michael Longoria. The verdict was reached some four hours later.

Cherry's sentence will be announced today, Longoria said.

He faces the following maximum penalties: dishonorable discharge, up to 30 years in prison for sexual assault and up to 20 years in prison for sexual abuse.

Contact Tiffany Tan at

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Cops and Courts Reporter

Cops and courts reporter for the Rapid City Journal