Groton child sexual assault investigation expanding to other states
The U.S. Attorney's Office is involved in a wide-ranging investigation of a Navy petty officer who admitted to Groton Town police last year that he had sexually assaulted multiple underage victims.
Randall J. Tilton, 30, most recently living at 84 Mumford Ave. and stationed at the Naval Submarine Base in Groton, is being held in lieu of $900,000 bond at the MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution in Suffield, a state prison. He is accused of sexually assaulting two underage victims locally, and Sate Prosecutor Theresa Anne Ferryman said during Tilton's appearance Thursday in Superior Court that she knows of "at least one more victim" in the state court jurisdiction and that an ongoing federal investigation involves several states.
Tilton, a New Hampshire native, enlisted in the Navy in 2008 and remains on active duty pending the outcome of the investigation, according to Jodie Cornell, a spokeswoman for the Navy.
Classified as a Machinist's Mate 1st Class, Tilton completed two months of recruit training in Great Lakes, Ill., before arriving at the Navy Submarine School in Groton in April 2008, according to Navy records. He served aboard the USS New Hampshire from September 2008 to February 2013. He was assigned to a submarine maintenance center in San Diego, Calif., from March 2013 to February 2016, and has been assigned to the USS South Dakota, which is homeported in Groton, since April 2016.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Nancy Gifford, who handles federal prosecutions, met with state court officials Thursday and was in the courtroom when Tilton, wearing an orange prison jumpsuit, was led before Judge Hillary B. Strackbein. Gifford did not speak on the record and declined to comment afterward.
Tilton's attorney, Kevin C. Barrs, asked that the case be continued to March 13 while the investigation continues.
Groton Town police started investigating Tilton when the mother of an alleged victim came forward in October 2019. The town police charged him in November 2019 with three counts of first-degree sexual assault and three counts of risk of injury to a minor. During an interview by an independent forensic interviewer, the police said the alleged victim disclosed being sexually assaulted in 2017, 2018 and 2019 by Tilton, who used his cellphone to take videos and photos of the sexual acts.
According to a police report, during an interview at the Groton Town police headquarters, "Tilton disclosed multiple underage victims," including the one initially reported to police.
Groton Town Police continued their investigation and charged Tilton in connection with a second underage victim in December 2019.
On Thursday, Judge Strackbein granted the state's motion to continue sealing court documents in the case due to the ongoing investigation. The records include search warrants of Tilton's phone and Department of Correction phone records, along with arrest warrant affidavits in the case.
State court records indicate Tilton was divorced in 2008. His current marital status is unknown.
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