Marine Pfc. Avery L. Rosario will be tried at a general court-martial on charges of sexual assault of a minor and violating liberty restriction after a 14-year-old girl was found in his room in June, Corps officials have announced.
Rosario is assigned to Combat Logistics Battalion 5 at Camp Pendleton, California. The girl was discovered in his room on June 28. The girl’s grandmother had reported her missing on June 13, telling a sheriff’s deputy that she had run away before but had previously always quickly returned.
Rosario is charged with three specifications of sexual assault of a child who has attained the age of 12 and two specifications of breach of restriction for allegedly leaving Camp Pendleton on June 27, according to a redacted copy of his charge sheet, which was provided to Task & Purpose.
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He will be arraigned on Thursday, when his trial date will be set, according to a statement from the 1st Marine Logistics Group.
“As always, the command respects the legal process, the rights of the accused, as well as any other individuals affected by the case,” the statement says. “We will continue to release information as transparently as possible without interfering with the legal process.”
No more information about the legal proceedings was immediately available.
Marine Capt. Katherine Malcolm, Rosario’s defense attorney, argued during Rosario’s Article 32 hearing in August that her client met the girl through a dating app, for which her profile listed her age as 21, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.
Retired Marine Lt. Col Gary S. Barthel, a civilian U.S. military defense attorney, attended the hearing as an independent observer. Barthel is a consultant to media outlets covering the case.
If Rosario’s defense can persuade a judge or military panel that he had a reasonable belief that the girl was the legal age of consent, then Rosario could be found not guilty of the sexual assault charges, Barthel told Task & Purpose on Wednesday.
Rosario could still be found guilty of breach of his restriction to Camp Pendleton if prosecutors can prove that he knew he was on restriction when he left the base, Barthel said.
The girl was returned to her grandmother after being found at Camp Pendleton. Marine Corps and law enforcement officials have not said publicly how she got on base.
In July, an anonymous Instagram account posted the logbook entries from Camp Pendleton dorm where the girl was found along with a picture of Marine Corps police leading a man away in handcuffs. Task & Purpose has confirmed that the Instagram images are authentic.
Casaundra Perez, who claims she is the girl’s aunt, made a TikTok video over the summer alleging that her niece had been trafficked and that the military was trying to cover up the case.
Perez could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.
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