ROWAN COUNTY, N.C. – A Marine recruiter from Salisbury is off the job after being charged with sexually assaulting two teen-aged recruits.
Investigators from Salisbury Police Dept. and Rowan County Sheriff’s Office arrested Sgt. Derek Craig Percival at his apartment off Julian Road Saturday, where he lives with his wife and two children.
Percival is charged with sexual battery, false imprisonment, communicating threats, sexual servitude, and attempted second degree rape.
NBC Charlotte spoke exclusively to Percival’s two accusers Saturday night. We are not identifying them because WCNC does not identify victims of sexual assault.
"I woke up at 4:30 and he was whispering in my ear,” said the first, a 17-year-old Marine recruit. "Then he tried to actually have sex with me."
The teenager said she had met with Percival four or five times about joining the Marines, and found him to be polite and respectful each time. Her ex-boyfriend had introduced them, and she had been to a party at his apartment in September.
She went to another party at his apartment Saturday with a handful of other recruits, she said. Percival’s wife and two young children were there. Her ride didn’t show up, so she and the other teens slept in Percival’s living room.
Early Sunday morning, however, she said Percival woke her up and tried to have sex with her.
"He said, ‘If you don't let me, I'm going to rape you,’” she said. “And I said, ‘No you're not, just go away, just stop.’"
Afraid of waking Percival’s wife and children, she followed Percival outside, where she figured she could call for help. There was no one around.
“When I went outside is when he forced me to have oral sex with him,” she said. And then she said he told her, “If I were to tell anybody, he was going to kill me.”
She said she went back inside and tried to sleep, but he approached her for sex again. She hit him. When her friends woke up, she got a ride home.
She said she told an ex-boyfriend about the encounter, and he alerted military personnel and encouraged her to go to police. She then told her mom, who supported her as she approached investigators.
A few days later, a close friend who had met with Percival about joining the Marines went to the recruiting office on Arlington Street in Salisbury to fill out paperwork. The 18-year-old girl said she didn’t know about her friend’s encounter the weekend before.
“He started talking really foul and asking if I would give him oral sex, and if I would show him my breasts,” she said. She told him no.
“He leaned in and kissed me and I didn't open my mouth back,” she went on, “and he got really mad and pulled my chair back on two legs and cussed me out.”
The two teens said they don’t look forward to facing Percival in court, but they came forward because they know there are other victims. Some they know by name, others they hope will hear their story and come forward.
They also want to keep other young recruits from becoming victims too.
“In a way it scares me to face him,” said the 17-year-old. “But to know he's going to get what he deserves makes it a whole lot easier.”
Marine investigators are also working with Salisbury Police and Rowan Sheriff’s Deputies on the case. Marine Sgt. Dwight Henderson said Saturday the Corps will do its own investigation, and determine if military charges will be filed.
Until then, said Sgt. Henderson, Percival has been removed from his recruiting post, and is under a military protective order which forbids contact with applicants.