FTCA Sexual Assault Complaint Against Marine Recruiter

FTCA Sexual Assault Complaint Against Marine Recruiter

Case name: Jane Doe v. the U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Department of the Navy, and U.S. Department of Defense

Case type: Sexual Violence, Title IX, and Victims’ Rights

Case Summary

On February 15, 2024, Sanford Heisler Sharp filed a Federal Torts Claims Act (“FTCA”) administrative complaint against the United States Marine Corps and its parent agencies the United States Department of the Navy and the Department of Defense (collectively “the Marines”) on behalf of a teen-aged recruit who was sexually abused by Marine recruiter Christopher Champagne.

The plaintiff, Jane Doe, was 17 when she signed on to become a Marine Poolee, a program that enables Marine enlistees to defer basic training until after they finish high school. During this interval throughout the fall of 2022 and spring of 2023, Ms. Doe attended training exercises at the Marine Recruiting Station in Decatur, Texas, where Champaigne, a gunnery sergeant 20 years her senior, was assigned to oversee the Poolee program.

The complaint alleges that Champagne regularly pulled Ms. Doe into his office at the recruiting station and sexually harassed her by engaging in inappropriate conversations and attempting to kiss her. The complaint further alleges that as Champagne’s obsession with Ms. Doe grew, he coerced her into a sexual relationship, sexually assaulted her, and began stalking her.

Ms. Doe and her family were fearful enough of Champagne that they reported him to the Marines and sought a protective order, according to the complaint. Neither of these actions deterred Champagne, who continued to contact Ms. Doe and posted a tell-all book online about his sexual relationship with her.   

Under the FTCA, the first step for individuals with claims against an agency of the federal government such as the Marines is to file an administrative complaint against the agency at fault.

The complaint alleges that the Marine Corps is negligent for failing to enforce Ms. Doe’s protective order and for allowing Champagne to continue to serve as a recruiter in charge of teen-aged recruits despite being aware that Champagne’s wife had previously accused him of a sexual assault.

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We know how difficult it is to come forward to disclose sexual abuse. Sanford Heisler Sharp’s Sexual Violence, Title IX and Victims’ Rights practice group, led by Co-Chairs Christine Dunn and Carolin Guentert, has extensive experience helping survivors. We are trained in trauma-informed advocacy and represent clients in a compassionate and victim-centered manner. With law offices throughout the United States, we regularly take on some of the nation’s most powerful institutions, including colleges and universities, public school districts, hospitals, and government entities.