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April 2022
Tim Bilecki

SSgt Charged with Sex Assault, Alcohol to Minors, Gets Best Possible Outcome

Violation of a General Order (x3), Sexual Assault (x2), Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon, Obstruction of Justice, Extramarital Sexual Conduct
Marine Corps Air Station, Yuma, Arizona
Marine Staff Sergeant – E-6
Plea agreement reached, not guilty of sexual assault, not guilty of assault with a deadly weapon, guilty to an orders violation and extramarital sexual conduct. No sex offender registration.

Best possible outcome is a phrase that Marines know well. When Chesty Puller was surrounded at the Chosin Reservoir, he said, “Good, now we can attack in any direction.” To be clear, General Puller really wasn’t enthusiastic about being surrounded. Rather, he opted for the best possible outcome given the circumstances. For a Marine stationed at MCAS Yuma, the best possible outcome was where he found himself and the best possible outcome may have saved his life.

The charges were straightforward and damning:

  • Violation of a General Order (x3),
  • Sexual Assault (x2),
  • Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon,
  • Obstruction of Justice, and
  • Extramarital Sexual Conduct.

Why would Bilecki take a case like this? Because our system of justice presupposes a competent defense. The truth is preeminent amongst assumed guilt, and due process was in our founding fathers’ blood.

A Marine Staff Sergeant was accused of attending a party where he had been drinking heavily with junior enlisted Marines and providing alcohol to those under the minimum drinking age, which was a direct violation of MCO 1700.22G. Now, there is not a Marine SNCO in the fleet that is under any illusion about how much Junior Marines drink alcohol. Not even the Chaplains assigned to the Marines are confused about the debauchery among the ranks. An SNCO providing that alcohol — well, poor choice.

The real trouble began when the SSgt was accused of sexual assault. The alleged victim attended the party and drank in moderation until the accused and their spouse began pouring shots of alcohol. The alleged victim stayed at the accused residence along with the accused’s wife and two other individuals. Again, poor choice from the SSgt.

It was alleged that the accused entered the room where the alleged victim slept and encouraged her to take shots. At some point in the evening, the alleged victim woke up with her shorts off and the accused performing oral sex on her. A few weeks later, the alleged victim reported the assault to the authorities, and the legal process began from there.

The charges against the SSgt escalated when the Marine was accused of telling his wife not to report the incident and allegedly threatening her with a gun. These new accusations led to the Marine being placed in pre-trial confinement. However, the investigation by Bilecki began to reveal new facts. Interviews with others who stayed at the residence indicated that they did not recall the alleged victim leaving the spare room. The accused made non-sworn statements, claiming to only recall kissing the alleged victim but not performing oral sex. Again, poor decisions, but the truth is truth as the accused was heavily intoxicated the night in question.

A competent defense that our justice system requires calls upon the defense to acknowledge the cold, hard facts in front of them. Prior to trial, Bilecki negotiated a plea agreement with the prosecution that limited the SSgt’s brig time to 165 days and, most importantly, prevented him from being found guilty of sexual assault.

The Marine pleaded guilty to violating military orders and committing adultery but not guilty to sexual assault and assault with a deadly weapon. In other words, the best possible outcome. Competent defense and our justice system require nothing less.

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