Beaufort News

Fate of Marine charged with child molestation undetermined, Corps says

The fate of a Fightertown Marine charged last week with child molestation has not been determined, according to officials at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort.

Port Royal police charged Cpl. Brandon Lashun Sands, 26, with one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor after the 3-year-old daughter of his live-in girlfriend told her mother that Sands touched her inappropriately, according to a Police Department spokesman.

Lt. Sharon Hyland, air station spokeswoman, said base commanders have yet to determine what punishment he will face as a result of last week's arrest.

"There has been no change to Cpl. Sands' status within the Marine Corps," Hyland said.

Sands could be charged under the Military Code of Uniform Justice or be "administratively separated" from the Corps by his commanding officer, Hyland said.

Sands has been a Marine for five years and is assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron at MCAS Beaufort, where he works as an aircraft rescue firefighter, according to air station officials.

Investigators said Sands was working at the air station last week when the child's mother confronted him about the incident in a text message.

Sands and the woman exchanged several text messages before Sands wrote, "I'm sorry, I'm a terrible person," and "I'm evil," said Lt. Ron Wekemann, Port Royal police spokesman.

Wekemann said Sands confessed to the crime during a meeting with investigators from the Port Royal Police Department and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.

He was being held in the Beaufort County Detention Center on Thursday without bond, according to the jail log.

If convicted, he faces up to 30 years in prison, according to state law.