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Family of missing teen found at Camp Pendleton demands transparency, justice

Family of missing teen found at Camp Pendleton demands transparency, justice
Posted at 5:08 PM, Aug 07, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-07 20:58:22-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - A family member of a missing 14-year-old girl found at barracks on Camp Pendleton spoke out, demanding justice and transparency.

“I refuse to let this matter be swept under the rug,” said Cassandra Perez.

With social justice advocate Chloe Cheyenne by her side, Perez, the aunt of the 14-year-old girl found in the Camp Pendleton barracks in late June, called for criminal charges.

“Statutory rape is a crime. It could have been charged, and it wasn’t,” said Perez.

Perez's niece disappeared from Spring Valley in June. Her grandmother reported her missing, sparking an investigation.

Two weeks later, she was found at Camp Pendleton. Authorities confirmed a photo taken on June 28 shows a Marine being taken into custody for questioning by NCIS.

RELATED: Relative of teenage girl found in Camp Pendleton barracks speaks out

The Marine was released back to his unit, pending the continued investigation.

Perez doesn't understand why the marine's name hasn't been released, and remains frustrated over the lack of charges.

“She was raped by a Marine at Camp Pendleton,” said Perez.

In July, reported, after reviewing investigative documents, the girl claimed she was been sold by a pimp and sex trafficked, but NCIS agents so far had not found evidence supporting it. also reported the Marine and teen initially said they met on the Tinder app, where she claimed to be 22.

When asked about that report, Perez declined to comment, but says in person, there's no mistaking the girl is underage.

“She looks like a little kid. There’s no doubt about it. It's very, very obvious she's a child,” said Perez.

ABC 10News asked Perez how her niece, whose guardian is her grandmother, is doing.

“She's doing as well as you can in such a traumatic event. She’s okay, that’s all I could say,” said Perez.

Perez also made claims the investigation has been mishandled. She says the teen was initially questioned without the consent of family. She also believes a Military Protective Order, a type of restraining order issued by a unit commanders, should have been issued soon after the teen was recovered. She says the MPO has yet to be issued.

ABC 10News reached out to Camp Pendleton for a comment on Perez’s claims and are waiting to hear back.

An NCIS spokesperson released the following statement:

“I can confirm that NCIS launched an investigation on June 28 upon notification that a minor who had been reported missing was found aboard Camp Pendleton. The investigation, which is being conducted with the San Diego Sheriff’s Department and the San Diego Human Trafficking Task Force, remains active and ongoing. Out of respect for the investigative process, NCIS will not comment further while the investigation continues. As always, NCIS is committed to fully investigating any allegation of criminal behavior that threatens Department of the Navy readiness and the safety of children in the communities where our DON family live and work.”