Couple withdraws from free wedding amid sexual assault allegations
A military couple has withdrawn from a free wedding because of allegations of sexual assault on a teen.
According to investigators, Camp Lejeune SSgt. Patrick Ezel is accused of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy. Ezel and his fiancée were selected by "Operation Marry Me Military" to receive a free wedding worth nearly $18,000 at Tryon Palace's History Center. It was scheduled to take place on Veterans Day.
But according to Operation Marry Me Military, the couple has withdrawn from that wedding.
The prosecuting attorney said Ezel will face a general court-martial in September for allegations of sexual assault, sodomy, providing alcohol to a minor, and showing pornography to a minor. Those incidents happened in September 2011, investigators said.
"I'm incredibly disappointed to find out about this," Bob Mackowski, coordinator for the organization, said. "This is such a good charity and we do it for such a good reason."
The couple released this statement to the organization.
"We are sad to inform you that we are not going to accept the Operation Marry Me Military wedding package for Craven County. Due to some timing issues, planning and family schedules, we have scheduled our wedding for a later date.
Thank you so very much for considering us for this amazing gift. We will be in communication with you soon.”
NewsChannel 12 is working to confirm when the charges were filed against Ezel.
A representative from "Operation Marry Me Military" said the organization performs background checks on all applicants.
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