Former Cal Poly ROTC Chair Will Face Court-Martial in Hidden Camera Case

July 20, 2023
Gavel and American flag with scales of justice.

Charges against the former head of Cal Poly’s ROTC program accused of hiding a camera in a Pismo Beach clothing store’s dressing room were dismissed Monday, documents show, and the officer will be court-martialed by the U.S. Army instead.

Jacob Sweatland, 40, was facing two misdemeanor charges related to allegedly secretly filming a teenager and woman in the dressing room.

Those charges were dropped, and the case against Sweatland was transferred to the U.S. Army for criminal prosecution under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, where he will face a court-martial, according to court documents.

Sweatland was arrested Sept. 2, 2022, after a teenage girl found a spy camera in a PacSun dressing room at the Pismo Beach Premium Outlets.

Pismo Beach Police Department Commander Chris Trimble told The Tribune that an object resembling a key fob with a built-in camera was found by store staff, who then called police, prompting an investigation.

On Sept. 4, Trimble said, the store contacted the police again and reported a man later identified as Sweatland had returned to retrieve the fob. Sweatland ran from officers before being caught in the 200 block of Elaine Way in Pismo Beach, around a mile from the outlets.

Sweatland was charged Oct. 28 with two misdemeanors: resisting a peace officer and invasion of privacy.

Sweatland attempted to have his case go through military diversion, which allows defendants to divert their sentences for one year in misdemeanor cases, during which the defendant must abide by all laws and community service requirements.

To qualify, a defendant must show that they have a mental health diagnosis linked to their military service and that the mental health diagnosis is related to actions made in the alleged crime.

Court documents show Sweatland’s attorney filed a motion for military diversion on March 20. A motion opposing the diversion was filed by prosecutors on April 10, and San Luis Obispo Superior Court Judge Jesse Marino denied the diversion request on April 12.

According to U.S. Army spokesperson Ian Ives, Sweatland has served four combat tours: Once in Afghanistan, twice in Iraq and one operational tour to Columbia.


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