TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The parents of two young girls who were allegedly assaulted on a MacDill Air Force Base playground expected to be disappointed.
But one father, who is not being identified to protect his six-year-old’s identity, said it was still a shock to hear a Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) opinion on the case involving his child’s allegations of first-degree sexual assault.
“They found probable cause that he committed this crime but because he’s a minor at the age of 13, they can’t prosecute,” he said. “We’re fairly angry and agitated.”
The Army Criminal Investigation Division (CID) investigation began earlier this year after two girls under the age of seven alleged their 13-year old neighbor assaulted them on a plaground. The investigation was recently completed, according to a MacDill spokesman.
The father of the other alleged victim, who is younger than the other girl, said it was “it was extremely hard” to hear the suspect will not be charged.
“Just a feeling of helplessness,” he said. “It’s kind of just leaving us with an empty feeling that there’s no justice.”
His daughter was recorded by his wife, alleging the 13-year-old exposed himself and offered to give her a massage.
“But I didn’t want a message,” the young voice said. “And then he did something. Like, something weird.”
“That’s extremely disheartening,” her father said. “Because the facts are there, and they have probable cause. It doesn’t make any sense.”
He would ask the would-be prosecutor this:
“If this was your kid, would you drop that case? What makes this case any different? Why is my daughter different than your daughter?” he asked. “He’s just getting off easy and going on to live his life when my daughter and the other victim are still struggling with this.”
Parents at MacDill also expressed concern that future neighbors of the 13-year-old will not be informed about the allegations.
“He needs to be held accountable and people need to know. And people need to be able to protect their children,” the father of the youngest alleged victim said. “If anything else were to happen people will say why were we not made aware of this.”
The 13-year-old was ordered off the base the day after the first 8 on Your Side report was released.
MacDill Deputy Chief of Public Affairs Terry Montrose said the base commander barred the teen from the base “after an initial report from the [Army] CID investigation.”
“Army CID recently informed MacDill officials that the investigation has concluded,” Montrose said in a statement. “The case has been referred to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.”
William Daniels, the spokesman for Tampa U.S. Attorney’s Office, said, “We have no comment at this time.”
The father of the child who alleged first degree sexual assault said he does not expect any disclosure of the accusations, even if the child lives on another military base.
“At least let parents know that someone like this is around,” he said. “Especially on base.”
A 2018 Associated Press investigation documented 600 sexual assault cases since 2007 on U.S. bases around the world. According to the AP, about one of seven alleged assaults from a set of 100 investigations was prosecuted.