Camp Pendleton Marine charged with sex assault says he met missing teen on Tinder


The defense team of a Camp Pendleton Marine charged by military prosecutors with sexual assault of a minor, after a missing 14-year-old girl was found in his barracks, said in court Thursday he met the teen on Tinder.

The Marine was identified in the hearing as Private First Class Avery L. Rosario.

Rosario was detained in June after the girl was found at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton near Oceanside, California, on June 28, more than two weeks after her grandmother reported her missing to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.

Rosario also faces a charge involving a prior incident.

Police take a Marine into custody on June 28, 2023, at Camp Pendleton in Oceanside, Calif., in connection with a teen who was missing for 15 days.
Police take Avery L. Rosario into custody in Oceanside, Calif., on June 28.@notinregz via Instagram

On Friday, Capt. Charles Palmer, with the 1st Marine Logistics Group, said in a statement of the charges:

“Military prosecutors have charged the Marine with allegations of sexual assault of a minor and violating liberty restriction from a prior unrelated case,” Palmer said. “After the preliminary hearing, the command will review all charges and evidence to determine whether the case should be tried by court-martial.”

During the Thursday hearing at Camp Pendleton, it was disclosed that Rosario is charged with sexual assault of a child between 12 and 16 years old. The government also presented exhibits that included activity on social media of a Tinder profile and conversation on the dating forum, an Instagram profile and screenshots of text messages involving Rosario.

Other government exhibits included a Naval Criminal Investigative Services, or NCIS, interview with Rosario and Rosario’s roommate.

Rosario’s defense presented an exhibit of a recorded conversation between him and the teenager that occurred between June 26 and June 28.

In the hearing, it was also said that Rosario is charged with breach of restriction, and accused of leaving restriction requirements to remain on base and leaving restriction requirements to not leave base in a non-government vehicle.

According to the defense, Rosario was using Tinder when he met the girl. Defense lawyers emphasized the platform was for casual hookups and sex between adults.

In the teen’s profile, she claimed she was 21 years old, the defense said. The two then began messaging on the platform. The defense said she initiated the conversation between them and then asked their conversation be moved to Instagram, where she provided Rosario with her user name.

The interaction between the two began on June 26, according to Rosario’s defense.

The defense also said that she suggested the two get a hotel room.

Rosario eventually picked her up and the two had consensual sex at the barracks, the defense said.

The next morning, Rosario went to a work party and left her in the barracks. Two other people, including a lance corporal, saw her and talked to her, the defense said.

When questioned by authorities, the defense said, she admitted that her social media profile said she was 21. That profile, in part read, “I know I look young but hey when I’m 30 I’ll look like I’m in my twenties.” 

The defense said that in an Instagram message, Rosario gave her an opportunity to clarify her age, and asked her if she’s 21, she responded the was actually 22.

Defense also said that Rosario willingly interviewed with NCIS and allowed a full search of his phone.

The defense also brought up statements made by the girl, when she was interviewed by law enforcement, which included, “That was my whole plan,” in reference to being caught at the military base because she was “finally safe.”

The girl, according to the defense, said she was being sex trafficked for a year by a man named Hector. Rosario was in no way involved with Hector, the defense said.

When the girl was found in the barracks, she was found under the covers of the bed, snoring with the television on, the defense said.

The girl’s grandmother reported her missing June 13 after the child had run away from home four days earlier. The grandmother said the girl had run away before, but always returned home quickly, according to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.

Authorities entered the girl’s information into missing person databases, including that of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the sheriff’s department had said.

Once found, the teenager was returned to her grandmother, according to the sheriff’s department.

The Teen Line provides peer-based support from trained teenagers who are available every evening to field calls and texts. Call 310-855-HOPE (4673) or toll-free at 800-TLC-TEEN from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET or text TEEN to 839863 from 3 and 6 p.m. ET. Teen Line also responds to emails and has a message board.

The National Human Trafficking Hotline can be reached toll-free 24 hours a day at 1-888-373-7888. Support is available in more than 200 languages. The hotline can also be reached by texting BEFREE to 233733. Authorities urge those who suspect trafficking to also contact local police.


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