SAN DIEGO — Three San Diego-based Marines face military charges for allegedly raping two teen-age girls during a port stop in Australia.
Marine Staff Sgt. Herman L. Brown, an aircraft maintenance administrator, Sgt. Marion R. Johnson Jr., an aircraft ordnance technician, and Cpl. Marcus A. Malone, an aviation support equipmentman, are accused in connection with the alleged June 13 assault.
Investigators say the men, who are based at Miramar Marine Corps Air Station and were deployed on the USS John C. Stennis, met the 15- and 14-year-old girls at a mall in Hobart, the capital of Tasmania, an island south of Australia.
The girls then followed the Marines to a hotel where, according to investigators, they were given alcohol and then raped.
“The whole thing happened in less than an hour,” said Maj. Robert M. Miller, deputy staff judge advocate and military justice officer at Miramar air station.
The Stennis had arrived a day earlier for a scheduled five-day port visit.
Australian authorities initially charged Brown and Johnson but decided to drop the charges to allow U.S. military officials to prosecute the case.
Brown, 37, of Clarkesville, Tenn., is charged with conspiracy, rape, sodomy, indecent acts against a minor and lying to authorities.
He is also charged with adultery. Prosecutors allege that when Brown initially was questioned, he denied having sex with the victims.
Johnson, 24, of Baltimore, Md., faces 10 counts, including conspiracy, lying to authorities, rape, impeding an investigation and committing an indecent act. Prosecutors allege that during questioning by Hobart police, he told them that Brown was a Navy sailor and not a member of the Marine Corps.
Malone, 22, of Terrell, Texas, faces six counts, including committing indecent acts against a minor, providing alcohol to a minor, having carnal knowledge and impeding an investigation.
Johnson and Malone waived their rights to a pre-trial hearing Tuesday. Brown had waived the hearing two weeks ago, Miller said.
All three men could be sent to trial in either a special courts-martial or the more serious general courts-martial.
Brown, who faces the most serious counts, is in custody in the brig at Miramar.
Johnson and Malone were reassigned to other duties and released pending the start of their courts-martial.
If found guilty of the rape or statutory rape, the men could be sentenced to life in prison.
A courts-martial is expected early next year, military officials said.