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Marine Colonel Sentenced to 5-1/2 Years for Molesting Child

Col. Daniel Wilson, center, was fired as operations officer for II Marine Expeditionary Force in Camp Lejeune, N.C., amid allegations of child sex assault. (Military.com photo/Hope Hodge Seck)
Col. Daniel Wilson, center, was fired as operations officer for II Marine Expeditionary Force in Camp Lejeune, N.C., amid allegations of child sex assault. (Military.com photo/Hope Hodge Seck)

A decorated Marine colonel was sentenced to 5-1/2 years behind bars after being found guilty of sexually abusing a six-year-old girl, a military jury of colonels and generals determined Sunday.

Col. Daniel Wilson, 56, was convicted of sexual abuse of a child for touching her genitalia, but found not guilty on counts of raping the child by penetrating her with his fingers and of sexually assaulting another adult woman on multiple occasions.

Wilson was also found guilty of conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman for a series of instances of crude behavior amid heavy alcohol consumption, including sexual remarks to a colleague's wife, which got him fired from a liaison posting in Darwin, Australia, 10 days into the job.

The trial stretched 10 days and included testimony from the child Wilson abused as well as her sisters and parents.

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Military attorneys for the prosecution described how Wilson and his wife had befriended the family last summer, and how the child had accused him after a two-week period in which the families saw each other frequently. Wilson was alone with the child unsupervised on multiple occasions, and her parents testified that he appeared to pay special attention to her on evenings they spent together.

He was fired from his job as operations officer for II Marine Expeditionary Force aboard Lejeune amid an investigation into those allegations.

Wilson was also sentenced to be dismissed from the Marine Corps. If the dismissal -- equivalent to a dishonorable discharge -- is approved, Wilson would lose all entitlements and retirement benefits. He will receive credit for previous time served: nearly eight months in the Camp Lejeune brig, where he was sent in January after the second set of sexual assault allegations surfaced.

Another Camp Lejeune officer's wife claimed Wilson twice assaulted her in late December 2016, while she and the Wilsons were on a trip to Beaufort, South Carolina, and sharing a hotel room suite. Wilson was ultimately acquitted on those charges, but was found guilty of unauthorized absence for making the trip without permission from his command.

Wilson entered the Marine Corps in 1981, serving first as an enlisted Marine, and was promoted to colonel in 2010. He had served 11 deployments, earning, among other awards, a Bronze Star.

A spokesman for II MEF, Lt. Col. Michael Armistead, said it wasn't immediately clear where Wilson will serve his sentence.

-- Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at hope.seck@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @HopeSeck.

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