A Marine colonel whose original conviction of child sexual abuse was dropped has been retired from the Corps as a lieutenant colonel with a less than honorable service designation, the Marine Corps confirmed Tuesday.

Though Col. Daniel Wilson’s child sexual assault conviction was thrown out in 2019, his conviction for seven other relatively minor violations remained. In October Wilson came to an agreement with the Marine Corps that saw him request retirement in exchange for being released from confinement and avoiding a re-sentencing hearing.

In 2017 Wilson was convicted 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.

In July 2019 a three-judge panel with the Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals overturned the child sexual assault charge.

The decision to only reduce Wilson to lieutenant colonel overruled the recommendation from II Marine Expeditionary Force Commander Lt. Gen. Brian Beaudreault, who recommended Wilson leave the Corps as a major with an other than honorable service characterization based on the totality of evidence of Wilson’s alleged crimes, according to an investigation document acquired by Marine Corps Times.

However, Lt. Gen. Michael Rocco, deputy commandant for Marine Manpower and Reserve Affairs, decided to focus on the charges that remained against Wilson in his recommendation for the former colonel’s retirement, the document said.

Rocco’s recommendation, made for the sake of “judicial efficiency and administrative clarity,” was approved by Gregory Slavonic, the assistant secretary of the Navy for manpower and reserve affairs, according to the document.

The 2019 panel that dropped the child sexual abuse charge found issues with the testimony of his alleged victim, who was 7-years-old at the time, and used the military 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 victim’s family is now calling on Congress to remove factual sufficiency, which does not exist in most U.S. civilian courts, from the Uniform Code of Military Justice, Marine Corps Times previously reported.

“At the newly turned age of seven, 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 recommending that Wilson be reduced to major, Beaudreault took into consideration evidence for the overturned child sexual assault charge, including the testimony from the 7-year-old alleged victim and an impact statement from the child’s family, according to the investigation document.

He also took into account impact statements from Wilson’s misconduct that led to him being removed as a liaison officer only 10-days into a rotation to Darwin, Australia.

Beaudreault also took into consideration an allegation that Wilson mishandled classified information, specifically a USB stick accessed in 2008 with a label of “secret” on it, the investigation document showed. Wilson was not charged with that violation during his court-martial, the document said.

According to the document, Rocco said considering the child sexual assault evidence for Wilson “would not dramatically affect his grade because that misconduct occurred when he was a colonel.”

Rocco said he chose not to consider the allegation that Wilson mishandled classified material because even if he was convicted for the violation it likely would not have led to him being reduced to a major.

“Thus injecting additional misconduct at this stage would unnecessarily complicate and delay the process for only the potential for marginal value,” Rocco said in the recommendation.

Wilson’s lawyer, Andrew Cherkasky, said in a Tuesday email to Marine Corps Times that the retirement decision was the next step in “total exoneration” for his client.

“His retirement as a Lieutenant Colonel is disappointing, but is merely further evidence that the military justice system has been repeatedly polluted by the influence of vicious and untruthful comments of false accusers, and demonstrates the failure of senior leaders to quash the meddling of libelous individuals,” Cherkasky wrote.

The mother of Wilson’s alleged victim said she was heartbroken when she found out the Department of the Navy did not take evidence of the alleged sexual assault she said her child faced into account in Wilson’s retirement decision.

“It’s as though my daughters loss of innocence that changed her and our entire family forever, rings hollow on the hearts and minds of the people who are SUPPOSED to be there to protect victims of heinous crimes, and especially those without a voice, a child,” the mother said in a Facebook post.

“The monster who stole our daughters innocence has just been given the privilege of retiring as Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Marine Corps... the only thing they got right was retiring him with an “Other Than Honorable Discharge.”

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