FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – A former U.S. Army soldier has been found guilty by a Tarrant County jury of Sexual Assault and sentenced to 6 years and 6 months in prison, the Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney’s Office announced Friday.
Steven Dean Pham, 34, of North Carolina, was in the DFW Metroplex in May of 2017 with other soldiers for a training program.
The Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney’s Office summarized the incident here:
During the week they were here, one of the other soldiers became acquainted with a local young woman, who was invited to join the group, including Pham, at a bar on their last night in town. Witnesses reported that Pham got into an altercation with other partygoers and left the group before they returned to the hotel at night’s end.
After visiting the bar and a local party, the woman stayed at the Grapevine hotel room of the soldier with whom she had become friends. As that soldier was preparing to leave the next morning to catch an early flight, Pham showed up at the room, saying he wanted to be sure his friend didn’t miss his flight. The soldier escorted Pham out with him as he left the room, and urged Pham to go back to his own hotel room.
Instead, Pham returned to the hotel room where the young woman was still present and tried to gain entry by claiming to have left his room key there. When she opened the door, he entered and began to slap and punch her in the head. As she resisted, he strangled her into unconsciousness, threatening her life. When the woman awoke, Pham was sexually assaulting her.
When he finished assaulting her, he took her cell phone, threatening again to kill her if she resisted. He was recorded running out of the room on the hotel’s security camera.
A good Samaritan had alerted hotel security to screams coming from the room, and an officer was already on the way when the victim called for help from the room’s phone. Police were on the scene in minutes, and took Pham into custody in his own hotel room, where he was readying to leave to catch another flight. The victim’s cell phone was found in his carry-on bag.
“We’re taught to avoid the ‘creepy people’ in dark alleys, and to cross the street to avoid dangerous-looking men coming toward us. But you don’t see someone like Steven Pham coming,” said lead prosecutor Sarah Sherman. “Pham used his occupation as a soldier to gain trust, and abused that trust by committing a violent sexual crime. There are no stereotypes when it comes to sex offenders.”
“His conviction by the jury serves notice that Tarrant County residents will not tolerate those who do harm to any individual who lives, works in or visits our community, or dishonors the uniform of a United States soldier,” said prosecutor DJ Estes.
Pham was dishonorably discharged from the Army following the incident.