YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

The Region

Marine Rape Case in Civilian Court

The Riverside County D.A.'s office could still give up jurisdiction to the military, which wants to pursue charges against a recruiter itself.

May 13, 2003|Lance Pugmire | Times Staff Writer

Breaking from the tradition of allowing the military to prosecute its own, the Riverside County district attorney's office is pursuing charges against a Marine Corps recruiter for allegedly raping a 17-year-old girl -- the girlfriend of a recruit -- in his Riverside office.

Staff Sgt. William Clayton Bragg, a 32-year-old from Murrieta and 13-year Marine veteran, faces one count of felony rape for allegedly attacking a Corona teenager after a class for incoming Marines.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Barbara Marmor said her office had not made a final decision about retaining jurisdiction but would prefer to try Bragg in civilian court. A military justice official said that the district attorney's "aggressive" prosecution was unusual and that his office has asked to take over the case.

"I've asked for jurisdiction on other [civilian-military] cases 20 times in the last four years, and every time it goes to us, usually because the district attorney's office caseload is too backed up,'' said Col. John Canham, staff judge advocate for the Marine Corps Recruiting Depot in San Diego.

According to a source involved in the case, Marmor will probably turn the case over to the military if defense attorneys try to delay the trial, because a military court would probably hear the case in four to six weeks.

Eugene Fidell, a Washington, D.C., attorney who serves as president of the National Institute of Military Justice, said there is "no hard and fast rule" on jurisdictional matters such as Bragg's.

"A lot of it is political," Fidell said. "If it's a high-visibility case like this that may engage the sense of justice to the local community, the local prosecutor will often say, 'We'll take this one.' "

A status hearing in the case is scheduled before Superior Court Judge Robert J. McIntyre today. Bragg is accused of raping the teenager on the evening of April 10. Her boyfriend is a "poolee," someone who has signed up for duty but has yet to receive a boot camp assignment.

Bragg has pleaded not guilty and has been released on $50,000 bail.

Los Angeles Times Articles