A Marine colonel whose conviction for child sexual abuse was overturned in July has been released from prison and is on leave awaiting the Secretary of the Navy’s decision on his retirement request, according to the Marine Corps.
Col. Daniel Wilson originally was convicted in 2017 for sexually abusing a child, six counts of conduct unbecoming an officer and one count of unauthorized absence. He was sentenced to 66 months in confinement and dismissal from the Marine Corps ― a ruling that would have caused Wilson to lose his retirement benefits and have to register as a sex offender.
Wilson’s charge of sexually abusing a child was overturned in July by a three-judge panel with the Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals.
The appeals court did reaffirm Wilson’s conviction for six counts of conduct unbecoming an officer and one count of unauthorized absence ordering a re-sentencing hearing for the relatively minor offenses.
Child sexual abuse charge was dropped for this Marine colonel. Now the alleged victim’s family is calling to remove appeals process
In July, Col. Daniel Wilson's 66-month child sexual abuse sentencing was tossed by a military appeals court.
In lieu of the re-sentencing hearing, Wilson and the Marine Corps came to an agreement Friday that saw Wilson request retirement and be released from confinement, a spokeswoman from the Marine Corps said.
“The convening authority agreed that on the date of the Secretary of the Navy’s final approval of Wilson’s retirement request, in lieu of a sentence rehearing, the convening authority will approve ‘no punishment’ on Wilson’s General Court-Martial,” Maj Melanie Salinas, director of current operations at Communication Directorate at Headquarters Marine Corps, told Marine Corps Times in an email Wednesday.
Wilson will still have a court-martial conviction on his record, the equivalent of federal conviction, but because the child sexual abuse conviction was overturned, he will no longer have to register as a sex offender, she said.
In 2017, a military jury found Wilson guilty of sexually abusing a child under 12 years old several times in June and July 2016 at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Wilson was also found guilty of conduct unbecoming of an officer and being absent without leave.
The 2019 panel reviewing the trial record found the witness ― his alleged victim who was 7-years-old during her testimony ― inconsistent and unreliable, and used the court’s unique factual sufficiency powers to overturn his previous child sexual abuse conviction.
The alleged victim “was inconsistent in non-trivial ways that cannot solely be attributed to her young age,” the court said in its opinion.
The family of the victim is now calling on Congress to remove from the UCMJ the power, which does not exist in most U.S. civilian courts, so that, as they say, future victims can be protected, Marine Corps Times previously reported.
“At the newly turned age of 7, she bravely and courageously took the stand in a military court of law, in order to tell the jury members of her sexual abuse in the best possible way she knew how," the mother of the victim said about her daughter during a press call in early October.
In February 2016, less than two weeks into a six-month rotation to Darwin, Australia, Wilson was fired as the officer in charge of a forward coordination element for the Marine Rotational Force-Darwin. The conduct unbecoming of an officer charge was in connection with Wilson’s time in Australia, Marine Corps Times previously reported. His behavior during that time reportedly included making sexual comments to another colonel’s wife and sending crude Facebook messages to a female officer.
Wilson’s former attorney, Phillip Stackhouse, told Marine Corps Times Wednesday that he no longer is representing the Marine. Marine Corps Times is still reaching out for more comment.