- Private First Class Avery L. Rosario has been charged with sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl in Camp Pendleton
- His case has been referred to a court-martial, and arraignment is scheduled for Thursday
- Rosario’s defense claimed he met the girl on Tinder where she claimed she was 21-years-old
A United States marine charged with sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl on a California military base will face a court-martial, while his defense claims he met the girl on a dating app where she lied about her age.
Private First Class Avery L. Rosario was charged by military prosecutors after the teenage girl, who had been missing for 18 days, was found at Camp Pendleton in June.
Now the case will head to a general court-martial to be tried in military court, according to a spokesperson for the 1st Marine Logistics Group, reported NBC San Diego.
Rosario’s defense said he met the girl on Tinder and her profile said she was 21-years-old.
His court-martial arraignment is scheduled for Thursday where he will be read the formal charges, enter his plea and then trial dates will be scheduled.
Private First Class Avery L. Rosario is seen escorted to an August hearing over the charges alleging he sexually assaulted a teenage girl at Camp Pendleton
Rosario, seen handcuffed in July, claimed he met the girl on Tinder and that her profile said she was 21-years-old
Rosario was first made aware of the charges in August 17 at an Article 32 hearing, which is the military equivalent of a civilian preliminary court hearing.
The defendant is seen being escorted between two other service members taking him to the military courtroom.
At the hearing, his lawyers emphasized Tinder is for casual sex and said their interaction began on June 26 when Rosario matched with the girl who created a profile under the pseudonym ‘Kayla,’
They said the two began messaging and the teen suggested they move their conversation to Instagram and even proposed they get a hotel room.
Rosario claimed he drove to pick up the girl and the two had consensual sex at the barracks.
The next day, Rosario left her at the barracks and she spoke with two other people, one of them a lance corporal, the defense said.
He will face charges including sexual assault of a child who has attained the age of 12 years. He is also facing separate charges of violating liberty restrictions, which limit where service members are allowed to go.
Attorney Gary Barthel, who is not representing Rosario but attended his August hearing, said the defense is trying to prove he did not know the girls age.
‘It is a legal defense if he reasonably believed that she was of age, and I think that’s what the defense pointed out, not only that he believed she was of age, but there were other witnesses who also thought she was of age,’ Barthel told CBS 8.
The unnamed girl went missing on June 10 and her family has claimed she was sold to a Marine stationed at the base as a sex slave.
Officials previously confirmed Rosario was the same male seen in a video posted to social media that showed a soldier being led away in handcuffs by military police outside one of the camp’s barracks on July 2.
That video was recorded less than four days after the unnamed girl was found at one of the barracks, sparking the investigation.
The unnamed girl was missing for 18 days when she was found at Camp Pendleton in California
A leaked photo online shows what appears to be a handwritten logbook from Camp Pendleton that states that an ‘underage female’ was found in room 343
Casaundra Perez, the girl’s aunt, claimed investigators have tried to lay blame on the minor and get the incident ‘swept under the rug.’
‘[Investigators] were accusing [my niece] of communicating with the Marine, and saying that he was her boyfriend, but she doesn’t even know the Marine’s name,’ Perez told the Los Angeles Times.
A leaked photo posted online showed what appeared to be a handwritten logbook from the San Diego-area base that states that an ‘underage female’ was found in room 343. It mentions, however, that the girl was 13.
It is unclear why the ages differ. DailyMail.com could not verify the authenticity of the page.