NATIONAL NEWS

Sex crimes charges dropped against California Marine after missing teen found in barracks

Apr 13, 2024, 1:13 PM

SAN DIEGO (AP) — A Southern California Marine accused of having sex with a missing 14-year-old girl found in his Camp Pendleton barracks room last summer no longer faces sex crimes charges, military officials said this week.

Under an agreement offered by his defense attorney, Pfc. Avery Rosario pleaded guilty Tuesday to breach of restriction, for leaving the base without permission, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

He was sentenced to time served and agreed to be administratively separated, essentially fired from the Marine Corps without a dishonorable discharge.

Before the plea deal, Rosario faced charges alleging sexual assault after he was arrested June 28 when the missing girl was discovered in his room. His attorney maintained Rosario thought the girl was an adult. She was returned to her family.

The decision to dismiss allegations that Rosario sexually assaulted a minor came after consultation with the girl and her family through the girl’s attorney, a military spokesperson told the Union-Tribune.

A relative of the teen told NBC San Diego after Tuesday’s hearing that the family did not wish to comment.

According to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, the teen’s grandmother had reported her as a runaway on June 13, four days after she disappeared. The grandmother told authorities the teen had run away before but usually quickly returned.

Capt. Katherine Malcolm, an attorney for Rosario, said in court that the Marine had met the teen on the Tinder dating app and that her client had “a genuine belief” that she was 21 years old. Rosario’s friends told investigators they also thought she was in her early 20s, the Union-Tribune reported.

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Sex crimes charges dropped against California Marine after missing teen found in barracks