Marine recruiter, would-be recruits accused of rape
June 1, 2009
By JOHN ASBURY
A U.S. Marine Corps recruiter drove two would-be recruits to Hemet to
have sex with a 14-year-old girl, then planned to force her to work
as a prostitute, authorities said Monday.
Staff Sgt. Bryan Damone Cunningham, 33, of San Pedro, is charged with
seven felonies, including attempted pimping and kidnapping with
intent to rape after authorities said he tried to take her against
her will to Los Angeles. He could face a life sentence if convicted.
Two potential recruits, Justin Willard, 18, of Los Angeles, and Homer
Michael Daskalakis, 19, of Long Beach and formerly of Hemet, are also
charged with lesser felonies.
All three were arrested May 23 after their vehicle was seen being
driven erratically through Orange County, and police began asking the
girl why she was in a car with three grown men.
Cunningham, a three-time recipient of the Marine Corps Good Conduct
Medal, was based at a recruiting substation in Long Beach for the
12th Marine Corps District in San Diego.
The men were not in Hemet on the business of recruiting for the
Marine Corps, said Hemet police Lt. Joe Nevarez.
Police are investigating whether he was using the girl to entice the
other men to join the military.
"Anything's possible, but we don't know if it's true or not. There's
a lot we don't know," Nevarez said. "If you dangle a carrot,
someone's going to be enticed by it. He was in a position to recruit
young men to fight overseas and possibly lose their lives. Obviously,
he had to come up with an angle."
U.S. Marine Corps officials said that type of sexual enticement would
not be tolerated.
"We're looking for people to join the Marine Corps for smart, tough,
elite warriors, not people that behave like that," 12th Marine Corps
Capt. Jill Leyden said.
Hemet police said the other two suspects, Willard and Daskalakis,
were not involved in the alleged pimping plot.
Each is charged with unlawful sex and oral copulation with a minor
more than three years younger, Riverside County district attorney's
spokesman John Hall said. Both men could face a maximum sentence of
three years and eight months in prison if convicted.
Attorneys for Daskalakis and Cunningham did not return calls Monday.
Willard could not be reached.
Police have not released the 14-year-old's identity because she is a
minor and believed to be the victim of a sex crime.
TRIP TO HEMET
The three men drove to Hemet on May 22 after arranging online to meet
the girl for sex, Nevarez said.
The girl told police that when the three men arrived in Hemet, they
had sex with her, Nevarez said.
The girl may have agreed to the meeting, but under the law, a minor
isn't capable of giving consent to have sex with an adult, Nevarez said.
"She obviously wasn't threatened," he said. "She lived here in Hemet,
so the reason they came here was to meet her. She couldn't drive to
Orange County, so they had to come to her."
Cunningham had had an ongoing sexual relationship with the girl, but
it's not clear how long he had known her prior to the May 22 visit,
After the meeting that night, Cunningham told the girl he would take
her to Los Angeles and pimp her out, Nevarez said.
"At one point she expressed she didn't want to go, and he grabbed her
and attempted to force her to go against her will," Hall said.
ORANGE COUNTY ARREST
That night, witnesses saw a motorist driving erratically on Highway
91 and Highway 55 shortly after midnight and reported it to the CHP,
Orange police Sgt. Dan Adams said.
The vehicle came to stop in a medical center parking lot as Orange
police were arriving. Cunningham was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving.
When police began interviewing the girl, she told them she was having
sex with the three men, Nevarez said.
She also told police that Cunningham wanted to make her work as a prostitute.
"If Orange police hadn't been so diligent as to why the girl was with
three grown men, we may not have known," Nevarez said.
Orange police contacted Hemet detectives, who took the girl to Hemet
for questioning and began serving search warrants on vehicles and for
The girl was returned to her home, he said. Her parents had not known
about her relationship with Cunningham or her meeting with the three men.
"This is one of those online predator things, and parents need to be
aware of what their children have been doing online," Nevarez said.
Cunningham is being held at the Southwest Detention Center in French
Valley outside Murrieta, with bail set at $1 million. Daskalakis'
bail is set at $50,000. Both men have pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Willard is free on bond and scheduled to be arraigned June 24.
Since Cunningham faces civilian charges in Riverside County, he will
not be court-martialed or punished under the Uniform Code of Military
Justice because that would be double jeopardy, Leyden said
Marine officials are working to administratively separate Cunningham,
which means he would be forced to leave the military.
All recruiters receive the same training as other Marines, including
on sexual harassment avoidance and ethics, Leyden said.
"The laws are the laws. ... There's no special rules that apply to
recruiters because, as a whole, we have such high standards," she said.
Reach John Asbury at 951-763-3451 or jasbury@PE.com
Marine recruiter charged with pimping girl, 14
Calif. police investigating whether he used teen to entice potential recruits
June 3, 2009
HEMET, Calif. - A U.S. Marine Corps recruiter in Riverside County,
Calif., has been accused of pimping a 14-year-old girl. Police were
also looking into whether he used the girl to entice possible Marine recruits.
Staff Sgt. Bryan Damone Cunningham pleaded not guilty to seven
felonies, including felony pimping and kidnapping. Police in Orange,
Calif., said they discovered the teenage girl in a car with
Cunningham and two other men, ages 18 and 19, described as potential
The girl, who has since been returned to her parents, told police
that she'd met Cunningham online and had sex with all three men,
The two potential Marine recruits face felony charges of having sex
with a minor.
Cunningham is being held on $1 million bail and has a court hearing June 18.
Police: S. California Marine may have used sex with 14-year-old girl
to entice recruits
By Associated Press
June 2, 2009
HEMET, Calif. (AP) Police have arrested a U.S. Marine Corps
recruiter on charges of felony pimping and kidnapping and are looking
into whether he used sex with a 14-year-old girl to entice potential recruits.
Staff Sgt. Bryan Damone Cunningham, 33, of San Pedro pleaded not
guilty to seven felonies last Thursday after police in Orange
discovered the teenage girl in a car with Cunningham and two other
men. The two men, ages 18 and 19, were potential Marine recruits, police said.
The girl, who has since been returned to her parents in Hemet, told
police that she met Cunningham online and had sex with all three men.
She also told police Cunningham wanted her to work as a prostitute
and had tried to take her to Los Angeles County against her will.
Police said they are trying to determine if Cunningham may have been
using the girl to entice Marine recruits.
"It's not proven ... but when you look at it, this is a grown man, a
Marine staff sergeant," said Hemet police Lt. Joe Nevarez. "Why would
he be taking them out to have sex with a 14-year-old girl?"
Cunningham's attorney, Dane Levy, did not immediately return a call
seeking comment Tuesday.
The two potential Marine recruits face felony charges on having sex
with a minor.
Cunningham is being held on $1 million bail and has a court hearing
June 18, said John Hall, a spokesman for the Riverside County
district attorney's office.
Hemet is east-southeast of Los Angeles.