SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. (AP) — An Air Force technical sergeant who fled Illinois earlier this year while awaiting a court-martial will spend 25 years in prison after pleading guilty Monday to child sexual assault charges.
David Lawrence Helm also pleaded guilty to a desertion charge and to illegally recording the private area of a woman. In addition to the prison term, Helm was dishonorably discharged and forfeited all pay and allowances.
Helm entered the guilty pleas at the start of his court-martial as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors, who dropped some the charges against him, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
Helm was accused of sexually assaulting a girl between the ages of 12 and 16 at several locations in 2013 and 2014, including at southern Illinois' Scott Air Force Base and in Tennessee.
A statement read on behalf of the victim, who is now 15, indicated the rape left her feeling suicidal and unable to trust men, the Belleville News-Democrat reported.
"I had a knife to my wrist and I was going to work my way up my arm and I only stopped, because they opened the door," the victim said in a statement read by Special Victim's Council Capt. Amanda Snipes.
Helm, 35, was scheduled for trial earlier this year. However, he went missing from Scott Air Force Base on May 29. He was declared a fugitive in early June and later arrested in Nevada.
A spokesman for the Nevada State Highway Patrol said Helm told a trooper that he visited Las Vegas, went skydiving and drove a high-performance race car as part of his "bucket list." Helm was pulled over for having a broken tail light on his motorcycle. A search of his license plate turned up the fugitive arrest warrant.