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Fired Marine recon commander accused of abuse in military charge sheets

A recon commander sacked in May allegedly struck an individual in the face and was accused of inflicting psychological and emotional abuse, among other accusations, according to details in a charge sheet.

The victim of Lt. Col. Francisco X. Zavala’s alleged abuse is believed to be his wife, but the charge sheet obtained by Marine Corps Times from the Marine Corps upon request, redacted the name.

Zavala is the former commander of Camp Pendleton-based 1st Reconnaissance Battalion. He was relieved of his position in May by 1st Marine Division commander Maj. Gen. Robert F. Castellvi.

The lieutenant colonel will face an Article 32 hearing in early October for charges of allegedly committing assault, making a false official statement, waste or destruction of non-military property and conduct unbecoming an officer, according to Maj. Kendra Motz, a Marine spokeswoman.

A charge sheet detailed that Zavala is accused of slamming an unnamed woman on the bed, throwing her against the wall and on the ground around Dec. 23, 2018.

He also is accused of holding an unnamed woman in a bear hug around Oct. 21, 2018, and hitting her with his hands and foot around September 2018, a charge sheet detailed.

Around June 17, 2018, Zavala allegedly hit an unnamed woman with his backpack and threw a wedding ring at her, according to the the charge sheet.

The former recon commander is also accused of destroying a cellphone valued at less than $500 around Oct. 21, 2018, and allegedly making a false official statement to a colonel on or about April 24, 2019, claiming that he never got “physical” with an unnamed individual, according to the charge sheet.

Zavala was informed of the charges against him on Aug. 8, 2019, the charge sheet detailed.

The charges against Zavala are only preferred, and a preliminary hearing officer will determine the appropriate form of adjudication or whether Zavala will face all, some or none of the charges, Motz said.

While the female victim’s name has been redacted in the charge sheet, Zavala was accused of abuse by his wife in a restraining order she filed in April as part of a divorce from her husband, according to court documents obtained by Marine Corps Times.

Zavala told Task & Purpose that allegations against him were false and that he was “fairly confident" he would "be exonerated of everything that’s being alleged against me.”

He was commissioned as an officer in 2000 and has deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan.

In 2004, he was a platoon commander for 1st Fleet Anti-terrorism Security Team Company, Security Force Battalion, according to his official military bio.

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