Exclusive: U.S. Government Sued for $25 Million for Failing to Investigate Marine Colonel Later Convicted of Sexual Abuse

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Marine Colonel Daniel H. Wilson's uniform hangs on a door frame at his former home on U.S. Marine Corps base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. Photo by James LaPorta/Newsweek

A national nonprofit organization devoted to stopping sexual assault in the U.S. military has filed suit against the U.S. government on behalf of a Marine family.

The complaint, filed by Protect Our Defenders, seeks $25 million for damages stemming from the Marine Corps' failure to address the sexual misconduct of a Marine colonel prior to him sexually assaulting the daughter of one of his subordinate Marines, according to documents obtained by Newsweek. 

The lawsuit, filed last Friday, stems from the conviction of Marine Colonel Daniel H. Wilson, who was found guilty of sexually abusing a six-year-old girl at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. A damning inspector general report later showed a top Marine general neglected to investigate Wilson’s actions while serving in Darwin, Australia prior to the assault.

"What happened to my children is one of the great abominations that could have happened," Adrian Perry, the mother of the children, told Newsweek

The lawsuit, or what is known as an SF-95 form, was filed with the Office of the Judge Advocate General's Claims and Tort Litigations Division under the Federal Tort Claims Act. “Our daughter [...] was sexually assaulted by Colonel Dan Wilson. She has suffered severe pain and suffering and will require long-term mental health therapy,” the complaint said.

Marine Corps officials told Newsweek they do not comment on ongoing litigation.

Wilson was initially brought up on a litany of charges, including, sexual assault, sexual abuse, battery charges and conduct unbecoming of an officer and a gentleman in November 2016.

The conduct unbecoming charge stemmed from Wilson’s behavior while serving as a liaison officer for Marine Rotational Force-Darwin in Australia, a post that is expected to last for six months. Yet Wilson was sent back to Marine officials in Japan after just a few weeks.

At his trial last year, court testimony revealed that Wilson made sexual comments to the wife of the outgoing Darwin liaison officer and asked one of his subordinates, a Marine captain, for a “boudoir-style” photograph of his wife, and a pair of her underwear.

Wilson also logged onto his female civilian employee's government computer and asked an Australian counterpart out on a date while posing as her. Wilson said that his behavior at the time was in jest and meant to build rapport among his American and Australian colleagues, according to an investigation by this reporter in The Daily Beast.

In November 2017, two months after Wilson was sentenced to five-and-a-half years in prison after being convicted of child sexual abuse and conduct unbecoming, Military.com obtained a Marine Corps Inspector General’s report that faulted Marine Lieutenant General Lawrence Nicholson, the commanding general of III Marine Expeditionary Force, out of Okinawa, Japan, for failing to thoroughly investigate Wilson’s actions in Australia.

"There is no doubt the allegations against Col. Wilson were credible as found by the Inspector General and proven by his later convictions at general court-martial for his crimes committed in Australia. Lieutenant General Nicholson’s breach of duty is indisputable," the complaint said. 

Wilson would later be posted as the G-3 operations officer for II Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, where the assault had occurred.

"The Marines Corps left me no choice when they decided to sweep this under the rug, which resulted in the loss of innocence of my 6-year-old," said Perry. 

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