In July, news reports detailed a story in which a 14-year-old girl was found at a Marine base at Camp Pendleton, California, after she went missing about two weeks prior to her discovery. A Marine who was taken into custody after the girl was found is now being accused of sexually assaulting her.
This development comes after nearly two months of investigation into the matter:
A Marine has been charged with sexual assault of a minor after a 14-year-old girl was found in the military barracks of a Southern California Marine Corps base.
According to a statement from U.S. Marine officials, a preliminary hearing has been scheduled for Thursday for the unidentified Marine at Camp Pendleton, located about 40 miles north of San Diego.
“Military prosecutors have charged the Marine with allegations of sexual assault of a minor and violating liberty restriction from a prior unrelated case,” the statement said. “After the preliminary hearing, the command will review all charges and evidence to determine whether the case should be tried by court-martial.”
The family of the alleged victim has accused military authorities of attempting to cover up the case. The child’s grandmother previously stated that she had reported her missing on June 14. She indicated that the girl had run away previously, but always returned quickly. In a video on TikTok, Cassaundra Perez, the girl’s aunt, stated that her niece had been “sold to a soldier for sex” and that the military was attempting to “cover it up” and “place the majority of the blame on [the girl].”
Later in July, as we wrote, more details emerged about the case:
More information has emerged in the case of the young girl who was allegedly trafficked at Camp Pendleton by a Marine. Recently-obtained investigative documents shed more light on the incident.
The investigation is still ongoing, but Military.com obtained documents related to the matter:
While the young girl at the heart of this story went missing in early June, federal investigators concluded that she had been at Camp Pendleton for only about 24 hours and appeared to have met the Marine whose barracks room she would come to stay in just a day prior.
The documents also show that investigators have begun to look into the claims that the girl was a victim of human trafficking. So far, investigators are reporting that the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), which is being aided by several other agencies, has been unable to find any corroborating evidence to back up those claims.
The documents seen by Military.com say that when agents first interviewed the Marine and the victim, both said they met on the dating app “Tinder” where the girl used a different name and claimed to be 22. The Marine told investigators the connection happened on June 26 — a day before he would help drive her onto Camp Pendleton — and admitted to having had sexual contact with the girl in his barracks room.
The investigative documents also note that the Marine allowed agents to take all the data from his cell phone, including later messages in which the victim admitted to lying to the Marine about her age.
On August 7, Perez told reporters that her niece “was trafficked and potentially purchased by a Marine at Camp Pendleton” and that “his identity is still unknown to the family.”
At the time, the girl’s family indicated that they were informed that the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) investigation had only begun a week prior, which would have been about two weeks after the girl was found.
Perez also said she believes the Marine knew her niece was underage, telling reporters:
She looks like a little kid. There’s no doubt about it. She looks like a child, not even if she puts on makeup, she does not look like an adult. She’s not even the size of an adult. It’s very obvious she’s a child.
RedState will keep continuing to provide updates as the case progresses.