A Marine at Camp Lejeune, N.C., has been accused of engaging in sexual behavior with dogs in Jones County, officials said Tuesday.
Staff Sgt. Marc David Harpel, 30, of Emmett Lane in Maysville, was charged Monday by the Jones County Sheriff's Office with seven counts each of felony crimes against nature and misdemeanor solicitation for crimes against nature, according to a press release from the Jones County Sheriff's Office.
On Nov. 15, the Jones County Child Protective Services Deputy received information from a concerned citizen accusing Harpel of engaging in sexual behavior with neighborhood dogs, as well as viewing internet pornography in front of his minor children, according to the release.
The accusations against Harpel were investigated by the sheriff's office, which said they found enough evidence to support multiple felony charges of crimes against nature. Harpel is accused of sexually assaulting at least two dogs,including one female pit bull,and using the Internet to ask other individuals to join him in committing sexual acts with dogs, Capt. J.T. Eimer of the JCSO said.
The Marine Corps had previously issued a military protective order on Nov. 20, followed by the issuance of an N.C. Domestic Violence Protective Order on Nov. 21, to protect Harpel's spouse and children after he allegedly made threats against them, according to the release.
Marine Corps authorities ordered that the Marine staff sergeant be temporarily confined to the base brig aboard Camp Lejeune as a precautionary measure, according to the release.
Base officials turned Harpel over to the sheriff's office on Monday and he was placed in the Jones County Jail under a $14,000 secured bond, according to the release.
"The Marine Corps has been cooperating with the authorities as soon as it learned of this incident," 2nd Marine Division officials said in a statement. "The actions of Staff Sgt. Harpel are contrary to the high standards of personal conduct and performance expected of Marines and will not be tolerated. The overwhelming majority of Marines conduct their duties with honor and compassion that brings credit upon the Marine Corps and the United States."
Harpel is an infantry unit leader assigned to 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines, 2nd Marine Division. He joined the Marine Corps in July 2001 and was promoted to his current rank in January. He has deployed multiple times, most recently in support of Operation Enduring Freedom from December to May, according to a press release from 2nd Marine Division.
The Jones County Animal Crimes Unit will be pursuing additional animal cruelty charges against Harpel, and as the investigation is ongoing, additional criminal charges may follow, according to the release.
Eimer said the sheriff's office is not expecting to make additional arrests, and Harpel does not appear to own any dogs of his own at this time.
The Jones County Sheriff's Office is working in conjunction with Camp Lejeune's Provost Marshal's Office Criminal Investigation Division, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, as well as other base authorities.