Up Late and Up Early – for Military Justice

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I am exhausted. Emotionally. Physically. Spiritually. I am relieved, and I am angry.

I wrote a piece years ago about the Acquittal Hangover. We should add to that narrative and this time we must address the dismissal hangover also. Justice is messy, and justice is ugly. This morning as I wake up all on my own at 4:11am, I am reminded that no matter how hard I worked to free an innocent man, there is little that I can do to undo the horrors he has been living for the past eight months.

The ”power” of social media means this man will be haunted by whispers and echoes from influencers, press, and members of the public writ large who unfairly judged him. Calling him a pedophile. A predator. A sex-trafficker of children.

Commenters on my content posit congratulatory thanks, well wishes for this Marine to be able to move on with his life. Others wish that his accuser and her family would be charged with crimes perpetrated against him. Even more support the notion that the dating app that lured him to this minor should be held accountable. Money Justice, we call it.

And though I am certain we will pursue all available avenues, I remain fervent that no amount of money will make this young man whole again. Not ever.

He faced the adversity of this situation with grace and poise. While I know we all can stoke the raging fires of anger and outrage, he chose to keep them largely smoldering. Always present but virtually undetectable save a few smokey whisps. He cooperated with the authorities from the start, but where did that get him? In a jail cell, awaiting the day for his eventual release.

The taunting he endured by command members, pretrial confinement guards, and the popular rush to judge him all over TikTok and beyond is enough to bring most men to their knees. Or a nearby rope. But he endured. And his witty banter and limitless rifts kept us grounded and purposeful. And even smiling. At every turn, he remained calm and asked, “what’s the worst case scenario?”

The day he learned he would be released from his unjust incarceration was the day I saw some of the light in him restored. I can’t describe his smile that day, but I will keep it with me when I face the lows of these kinds of injustices. I am weary and I am renewed.

I know I am still processing everything that happened over the span of the last nine plus months that I followed his story in the press and then joined the team to defend him.

That it took the United States Marine Corps’ embarrassment at hiding exculpatory evidence to ignite in them the motivation to dismiss the baseless charge against him for his conduct with the lying minor is unforgivable.

At the eleventh hour when the military judge may just have been ready to drop the hammer against the trial team and the justice shop on Camp Pendleton, the approval of a deal saved them. Or so they would think. Bar licenses remain the likely target. The USMC cannot be entrusted to hold its counsel responsible, so some quick google searches to unearth their state bars will have to suffice. For now. They should be thanking the heavens for their unfairly gifted sovereign immunity for concealing favorable discovery. All the while he sat unjustly incarcerated.

As for the rest of them, the girl, her family, and specifically the aunt whose fame-seeking videos that caught the attention of other content creators, and those creators for perpetuating myths, lies, and slander: your day of reckoning is coming. I’ll see to it.

I’ve been up late and up early for the past 236 days. For military justice. For the next 236 days plus, my energy will be vested in finding money justice for this young man’s horrific journey. It will be my honor.

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