Sexual Assault Charges Dropped Against Camp Pendleton Marine Found with Teen in Barracks Last Year

The entrance to Marine Corps base Camp Pendleton
The entrance to Marine Corps base Camp Pendleton is seen on Sept. 22, 2015, in Oceanside, Calif. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull, File)

The Marine Corps on Tuesday dropped sexual assault charges against a Marine who was found with a minor in his barracks room last year, according to the service. The Marine instead pleaded guilty to leaving the base without authorization.

Last year, Pfc. Avery Rosario was found with a 14-year-old girl in his barracks room and subsequently charged with three counts of sexual assault. Those charges alleged that Rosario sexually assaulted the girl in June on Camp Pendleton, California, where he is stationed.

The Marine Corps dropped those charges ahead of the Marine's impending court-martial, instead opting for a plea deal that resulted in Rosario being sentenced to time served, the breach of restriction charge, and an agreement that he be administratively separated from the service.

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In the hearing Tuesday, Rosario admitted to violating liberty restrictions to meet the teenager, whom his defense attorneys said he believed was older because she represented herself as 21 years old on a dating app.

"The charges that have been dismissed involve allegations that Rosario sexually assaulted a minor," a spokesperson for I Marine Expeditionary Force, which is located at Camp Pendleton, told on Wednesday. "The convening authority came to this decision after consulting with the minor and her family through the minor's attorney." attempted to reach a family member of the minor via email, but did not hear back by publication. NBC 7 reported that the teenager's family did not wish to make a statement following the guilty plea and dropped charges.

The teenager was reported missing to the San Diego County Sheriff's Department by her grandmother in mid-June. Roughly two weeks later, she was discovered in Rosario's barracks, and military police at Camp Pendleton arrested him. He admitted to having sexual contact with the minor when questioned by authorities, according to Naval Criminal Investigative Service documents reviewed by

In August, the Marine Corps announced formal charges against Rosario that included sexual assault of a minor. contacted Rosario's attorney, Jocelyn Stewart, who said that Rosario should have been cleared of those charges earlier.

"The government was ... in possession of exculpatory evidence that they sat on for many months," she said, specifying that said evidence alleged the minor misrepresented her age on dating apps.

"The military recognizes that if a person has a personal belief that someone is of lawful age to consent and, under the surrounding circumstances, that belief is reasonable, that's known as a complete defense, which makes him not guilty," she said.

The minor's aunt had said via social media that the minor was a victim of human trafficking and a military cover-up. Preliminary NCIS documents reviewed originally by found no evidence of human trafficking.

Stewart was critical of the Marine Corps both over the phone and in a blog post on her law firm's site, saying that the service "cannot be entrusted to hold its counsel responsible."

"As for the rest of them, the girl, her family, and specifically the aunt whose fame-seeking videos … caught the attention of other content creators, and those creators for perpetuating myths, lies, and slander: Your day of reckoning is coming," Stewart said in a blog post, confirming to over the phone that she is considering "civil remedies" after the charges were dropped.

"I'll see to it," she wrote.

Related: Pendleton Marine Faces 3 Counts of Sexual Assault After Teen Found in Barracks Room

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