A former support soldier for 7th Special Forces Group was acquitted of sexual assault charges on Nov. 22, and his legal team is now looking to address the other-than-honorable discharge meted out to him a year ago.
Former Staff Sgt. William Mrozek faced two counts of capital sexual battery and one count of child abuse against the children of his ex-wife, ages 7 and 11, who visited Mrozek at his Crestview, Florida, home in July 2017.
“If convicted on one of the sexual battery charges, it would have been mandatory life in prison,” said Beau Powell III, one of Mrozek’s attorneys. “So the stakes were extremely high.”
Mrozek was administratively separated from the Army in November 2018 and reduced in rank to private, according to Maj. Daniel Lessard, a spokesman for 1st Special Forces Command.
Lessard couldn’t comment further on the administrative action, but said that Mrozek “may seek redress concerning his military records through the Army Review Board Agency.”
The discharge came on the heels of local law enforcement and Army Criminal Investigation Command interviews with the two girls. However, the standard of proof for administrative action is lower than for criminal trials.
Now, Mrozek’s attorneys plan to draft a letter to Army officials to help him correct his military record.
“Just hearing the charge, people are predisposed to wanting to hang him,” Powell told Army Times. “With this particular case, we were all invested, simply because we knew the underlying facts that law enforcement necessarily didn’t have while doing their investigation.”
The Okaloosa County jury hearing the case deliberated for five hours before delivering not-guilty verdicts, the Northwest Florida Daily News first reported.
In a police report from April 2018, the children described in detail being restrained and penetrated multiple times during their visit, and accused Mrozek of urging them to not tell anyone about the encounters.
Army CID investigators recorded a “controlled call” earlier in 2018 during which the ex-wife confronted Mrozek. After describing the alleged abuse, Mrozek stated that it was not something he would do, but added “I don’t think [the girl] would lie about something like that.”
“That is super descriptive and I am sorry,” Mrozek said during the recorded call. “You shouldn’t ignore what the girls are telling you."
Defense lawyers argued that the two girls were pressured into believing they had been assaulted by Mrozek. Bill Bishop, the chief assistant state attorney for Okaloosa County, did not respond to multiple requests for comment, but has previously denied that allegation.
During a medical exam as part of the trial, one of the girls only circled the shoulders and knees on a diagram of a human body that helps victims of sexual abuse describe what happened to them, Mrozek’s attorneys told Army Times.
“The nurse who did the exam said in the trial that this was very concerning to her, that [the young girl] was there because her mom told her she was sexually assaulted and yet she didn’t circle any genitalia,” Powell said.
Bridget Graham, another attorney on the legal team defending Mrozek, said she was concerned about how the girls were questioned during the investigation process.
"They were told some terminology that they otherwise wouldn’t have known, had it not been told to them first,” Graham said.
According to Mrozek’s legal team, the experts who testified during trial couldn’t validate the alleged instances of abuse because the physical injuries were not present. The abuse was reported roughly eight months after it allegedly occurred, and no evidence of scaring and tearing was found at that point.
Mrozek is still facing a civil suit for $10 million in damages from his ex-wife, according to Powell. An attorney for Mrozek’s ex-wife was not listed on the civil suit court docket, and the ex-wife could not be reached for comment.
The former soldier, who had been in confinement for more than a year, was released after the not-guilty verdict and was able to see his twin children for the first time that night, Powell said.