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Marine Found Guilty of Raping Corona Teenager

Staff sergeant could get life in military prison for the Riverside attack on a potential recruit.

June 17, 2004|Lance Pugmire | Times Staff Writer

A court-martial panel Wednesday found a U.S. Marine recruiter guilty of raping a 17-year-old Corona girl who wanted to join the military.

Staff Sgt. William Clayton Bragg, 33, a 14-year Marine from Murrieta, also was found guilty of indecent assault, indecent language, indecent conduct, conduct to discredit the armed forces and adultery.

The panel of six male Marines deliberated less than eight hours at the Marine Corps' Recruit Depot in San Diego. The panel will begin deliberating today on Bragg's sentence, which could be a maximum of life in a military prison without the possibility of parole.

During the trial, the victim described how her success in the physical training courses overseen by Bragg at a Marine Corps recruiting station in Riverside had boosted her self-esteem, with Bragg calling her "a model example of a recruit."

"I felt on top of the world," said the woman, now an 18-year-old high school student.

But on the evening of April 10, 2003, she testified, he called her into a back room of the recruiting station, "shut the door and hit the light....He proceeded to force himself on me, he had intercourse with me. I was in shock."

Bragg's attorney told the panel that the sex was consensual and that it followed a flirtatious exchange that included kissing.

Another teenager and potential recruit from Riverside County came forward later and alleged that Bragg had rubbed her breasts and spoken to her in a sexually explicit manner April 3, 2003. Several of the charges of which Bragg was found guilty related to her.

Maj. Paul M. Schimpf, who prosecuted Bragg, told the panel that the girls "trusted Staff Sgt. Bragg to represent everything that was good about the Marine Corps, and [he] betrayed that trust."

The Riverside County district attorney also has charged Bragg with rape. A spokeswoman for the office said a decision about whether to proceed with the case would be based on a review of Bragg's sentencing in the military court.

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