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Marine Corps colonel's sexual assault conviction overturned, but he remains in brig on appeal

U.S. Marine receives prestigious Copernicus award
Posted at 12:10 AM, Jul 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-30 09:12:49-04

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. (KGTV) - The family of a Marine Corps colonel is fighting for his release after a sexual assault conviction against him was overturned on appeal.

Col. Dan Wilson was convicted in 2017 after the family of a 6-year-old girl claimed he had inappropriately touched her.

Wilson appealed the decision, and in early July, a panel of three military judges overturned the lower court’s ruling, writing, “We cannot find guilt beyond a reasonable doubt” based on the girl’s statements.

After the decision, government prosecutors were given 30 days to determine if they will petition the appeals court to reconsider it. They have 60 days to decide if they will bring it to the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (C.A.A.F.).

In the meantime, Wilson remains held in the brig at Camp Pendleton.

“I just want him to come home,” said his wife, Susan Wilson. “I don’t understand the reasoning of the government to keep him any longer.”

Wilson’s attorney, Katie Cherkasky, called his current imprisonment “unconscionable,” pointing out the appellate judges overturned the case due to insufficient evidence, not due to a technicality.

“This is the judges on the appellate court saying there is no proof of him committing this act,” Cherkasky said.

Of the 24 original charges, Wilson was convicted on one count of sexual abuse of a minor. He was also convicted on six counts of conduct unbecoming an officer and gentleman and one count of unauthorized absence.

The improper conduct was related to his service in Darwin, Australia, in 2016. According to court documents, Wilson ”made an inappropriate comment to a Marine colonel’s wife; asked a Marine captain to provide a revealing photograph of his wife and a pair of her underwear; showed the revealing photograph of the Marine captain’s wife to an Australian commander; sent unprofessional social media messages to an Australian major; and sent an email from a civilian employee’s email account to the Australian commander.”

The unauthorized absence stemmed from a trip in December 2016 when he left Camp Lejeune without leave.

The appellate court did not overturn the lesser charges. However, because they were considered in the sentencing, the appellate court authorized a sentence rehearing by the convening authority.