ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – A retired Navy chief convicted of videotaping a 12-year-old girl in the bathroom of his house faced the victim's mother at a hearing Wednesday in St. Johns County court.
According to court records, Matthew Washkewicz pleaded no contest earlier this year to several charges, including video voyeurism, possession of child porn and tampering with evidence. He faces six to 25 years in prison.
Washkewicz's arms and legs were shackled as he entered the courtroom Wednesday afternoon. He prepared a statement to read before the judge and the 12-year-old girl's mother, who had tears in her eyes as Washkewicz read the statement.
"As a result of my actions and behavior, I have betrayed their love and trust, causing them much pain. I’m here today to take responsibility for my actions. I am deeply sorry for all of the pain and suffering I have caused and every day, I live it in my own guilt, shame, sorrow, humiliation, regret," he said. "I did consider asking from all those affected to find it in their hearts for forgiveness, however, I feel I have no right to ask for this nor do I have any expectations. Rather, I must live with my own guilt and shame."
Washkewicz also addressed struggles he faced being molested as a child.
"I believe that while growing up, that if I had someone to trust and confide in, then later in life, things would’ve turned out differently for me. I would not have caused this pain and suffering," he said.
The victim’s mother, who News4Jax has chosen not to identify, explained her relationship with Washkewicz. She said he was her late husband’s best friend of 20 years and a man she trusted like family -- even as a role model to her son. During a statement, she read a message from her now-13-year-old daughter.
"Even though making Matt go to prison won’t help my insecurities and paranoia go away, I can finally sleep and live another day knowing other people are safer," the girl's mother said tearfully.
After asking the judge to give Washkewicz the maximum sentence of 25 years, she addressed him directly.
"I am asking for you to give the maximum sentence to keep him from doing this to any other child," she said. "Matt, may you desire to be healed and be receptive to the ways in which healing needs to happen. I am offering my forgiveness and with that, I leave this between you and God and the trust that I have in him to heal you."
Washkewicz was arrested last July in St. Johns County after investigators said he videotaped the 12-year-old girl who was changing her clothes in the bathroom of his house.
According to the arrest report, deputies went to the home with a search warrant after the incident was reported. When they arrived, they had to force their way into the house and found a smashed cellphone and hard drive in the toilet. Days later, Washkewicz was also arrested on child pornography charges.
The Sheriff’s Office said investigators found a flash drive with 91,000 files of images and videos of child porn.
Defense attorney Curtis Fallgatter told News4Jax on Wednesday that when the plea was entered about three months ago, over his objection, Washkewicz instructed him to waive the suppression motion.
"He made a brief comment to the court and to the family at the time that he was doing it because he wanted to promote the healing and bring some banality to it and really just accept responsibility," Fallgatter said. "I have never had a client that has been that willing to do so."
The judge decided not to move forward with sentencing Wednesday and said he will take the case under advisement. Washkewicz is now set to be sentenced July 8.