UPDATE (3/12/11): Douglas Wacker was acquitted of the charges discussed below — please see the update at the end of this post.
One University of San Diego Law School student isn’t worrying about deferrals. He’s worrying about defense strategies. From the San Diego Union-Tribune:
A 30-year-old Marine Corps captain will face a court-martial Feb. 8 on rape and other charges involving three University of San Diego students in April 2007, a judge ruled today.
At the time of the alleged crimes, Capt. Douglas S. Wacker was on unpaid leave from the military to pursue a law degree at the university and on a spring break trip to New Orleans with the three alleged victims.
So not a very fun spring break trip for those San Diego law students.
According to the Union-Tribune, the New Orleans D.A. and a USD administrative board both looked into the allegations and decided not to pursue them, even though, in the opinion of one USD student, Wacker’s a “creeper”:
This guy was a 3L last year and was on the moot court board. A lot of people thought he was a real creeper.
Wacker might well be a “creeper,” whatever that means, but whether he’s a rapist is yet to be determined. The University of San Diego won’t be giving him a degree until that’s sorted out though. The University’s message to students, AND an update (analysis from a lawyer and former Marine as to Wacker’s fate), after the jump.
The University is withholding Wacker’s degree pending the outcome of the court martial. The USD administration sent out the following message to law students this week:
Dear Law Student,
Local media have recently reported that a person who was previously enrolled as a University of San Diego law student faces criminal charges of rape and other serious offenses in connection with off-campus incidents involving other of our students. The accused person is not currently enrolled at USD. Out of respect for the privacy of all involved and in accordance with laws protecting student privacy, the university cannot disclose additional information about this matter.
When allegations like this arise within a small community such as ours, they can give rise to unsettling emotions. Within the law school, students are welcome to seek assistance from our dean of students, Carrie Wilson. Students may also take advantage of the many professional services provided by the University’s Counseling Center. For assistance accessing Counseling Center services, please call 619-260-4655, or visit https://www.sandiego.edu/usdcc/services.php
While we recognize the seriousness of these allegations, we hope that they will not distract you from your studies. We reaffirm the university’s commitment to provide you with a safe and nurturing place to pursue them.
Dean and Professor of Law
It seems strange that the assault took place in 2007 and that a “USD administrative board cleared Wacker of misconduct,” according to the Union-Tribune, but that Wacker now “faces 11 counts of rape, attempted rape, indecent assault, obstruction of justice and conduct unbecoming an officer.” What exactly is USD’s definition of “safe and nurturing”?
A lawyer e-mailed us with some analysis from a former Marine’s perspective:
To someone who has never served in the Marines, yes it may seem strange that USD and the New Orleans DA would clear the Marine Captain of any wrong-doing, and yet he’s facing a Court Martial. I’d wager that there was probably a lack of corroborating evidence other than he said/she said and that’s why the DA declined to file charges and why USD cleared him of wrong-doing. However, the Marine Corps is a different animal. Having been a Marine (and now an attorney) I can tell you that the Corps doesn’t necessarily need corroborating evidence to find that this guy guilty of something.
Whether the Captain is really guilty of rape will probably never come out. However, the Marine Corps takes a lot of well-deserved pride in its image, and the Captain has tarnished that image. (he’s a national headline that has “Marine Corps” tied to it) Because of this he’s going to have to pay a price – whether or not he truly committed rape. At the very least he will be convicted of “conduct unbecoming of an officer.” His conduct probably does warrant that. The other charges are probably just the prosecutor “throwing the book” at him in order to get him to plead guilty to something – which would be conduct unbecoming of an officer. (a charge that he probably won’t be able to beat – even if Johnny Cochran was defending him)
UPDATE (3/12/11): As noted on the website of Wacker’s attorney, Haytham Faraj, Wacker was acquitted after a three-week court martial on charges of rape, aggravated sexual assault, and battery. The military jury did find him guilty of “Conduct unbecoming an officer,” based on a “statement [he made] to a law school board while completing an excess leave educational program.”
Marine captain to face court-martial on rape, other charges [San Diego Union-Tribune]
Court-martial date set for Marine in rape case [San Diego Union-Tribune]