CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. (KGTV) – A Camp Pendleton Marine pleaded guilty on Thursday afternoon to several counts abusive sexual contact against five other male Marines.
ABC 10News’ cameras were not allowed inside the courtroom during Thursday’s hearing on-base, which is standard protocol. Sketches illustrate Marine Corporal Royal Denson II as he pleaded guilty to seven counts of abusive sexual contact without consent. He told the courtroom that he had groped the private areas of five male Marines on several different occasions. He said that all of his victims said “no” and some pushed him away, but he still persisted.
According to a prosecutor, four of the Marines were apparently junior to him, in rank.
One Marine broke down in tears, describing how the assaults sent him spiraling into depression, hurting his relationship with his wife and family. Another Marine described having nightmares and said that he had to be re-assigned to a base on the east coast to get away from Corporal Denson.
Corporal Denson later spoke, saying that he was molested when he was 8 years old, which affected his ability to understand boundaries and consent, but he acknowledged that it’s not an excuse for his behavior.
The defense also called on two witnesses who spoke about what a dedicated and hardworking Marine Corporal Denson is and how they believe that he can be rehabilitated.
ABC 10News is awaiting a response from the base about the judge's sentence.