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Marine recruiter charged with sexual assault of teen-aged recruits

Rowan County Jail

Derek Craig Percival

A Marine recruiter in North Carolina has been charged with sexually assaulting two teen-aged recruits, according to police and local media.

Sgt. Derek Craig Percival, 24, remains in jail on charges of attempted second-degree rape, involuntary servitude, sexual battery and communicating threats, according to the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office.

According to WCNC, the NBC station in Charlotte, officers arrested Percival at his apartment on Saturday where he lives with his wife and two children.

Police told local media the alleged assaults took place at a Marine recruiting office in Salisbury, a suburb of Charlotte, and at Percival’s apartment.

In an interview with WCNC, one of the alleged victims, a 17-year-old who was not named, said she had met Percival four or five times about possibly joining the Marine Corps and had gone to his apartment for a party in September.

She said she also stayed overnight at his apartment last Saturday, while his family was there, when she and other recruits could not get a ride home. She told the station that early Sunday morning he forced her to have oral sex with him and threatened to kill her if she told anyone.

"He said, ‘If you don't let me, I'm going to rape you,’” she told WCNC. "And I said, ‘No you're not, just go away, just stop.'"

Later that morning he approached her again and asked for sex, she told the station. 

Another recruit, an 18-year-old friend of the first alleged victim, told the station that Percival had asked her to show her breasts and give him oral sex when she visited the recruiting office.

A 17-year-old female recruit tells WCNC's Diana Rugg that she was sexually assaulted after attending a party at her Marine recruiter's apartment.

Capt. Joseph Reney, a Marine spokesman, told NBC News that the Corps is cooperating with local authorities in their investigation and will conduct an internal investigation of its own. "I can tell you that this isolated situation does not reflect the entirety of Marine Corps recruiting, " Reney said. "The Marine Corps holds its Marine to a high standard and we will uphold that standard."

Phone messages from NBCNews.com to the Rowan County Sheriff’s were not immediately returned.

The Marine Corps said Percival has an attorney, although his name was not provided. Percival has not entered a plea on the charges.

After an increase in the number of sexual assaults reported in the military, including at least a dozen instructors accused of assaulting recruits at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, in September of 2012, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta ordered a review of all military policies and procedures in an effort to curb the problem.