Former Cal Poly ROTC chair now facing criminal court-martial

July 17, 2023

Jacob Sweatland


The San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office on Monday filed a motion asking the court to dismiss criminal charges against an Army Lt. Colonel arrested after his hidden camera was discovered in a dressing room in a Pismo Beach store.

Last week, the military commenced a criminal court-martial proceeding against Lt.Col. Jacob Sweatland. Local prosecutors then transferred jurisdiction to the U.S. Army and filed the motion.

At the time of his arrest, Sweatland was assigned as the head of the Cal Poly ROTC unit.

Pismo Beach officers arrested Sweatland on Sept. 2, 2022 after a teenage girl found a spy camera, which appeared to be a key fob, in a dressing room at PacSun.

After calling the store, seeking his key fob, Sweatland went to the store and walked in. He noticed officers and fled on foot.

Three hours later, officers arrested Sweatland at his home on charges of resisting arrest and invasion of privacy by recording in a dressing room, both crimes are misdemeanors.

Prosecutors later added two additional misdemeanor charges for allegedly filming a person in “full or partial undress, for the purpose of viewing the body of, or the undergarments worn by, that other person, without the consent or knowledge of that other person.”

Shortly after his arrest, the Army temporarily removed Lt.Col. Sweatland from his post at Cal Poly and ordered him to stay away from cadets, though he technically remained the department chair. The Army later reassigned Sweatland to a post outside SLO County.

“In 2023, California law has very limited criminal sanctions available for someone charged with the crimes Mr. Sweatland committed,” according to District Attorney Dan Dow. “We have confidence that the U.S. Army will obtain an appropriate resolution that appropriately addresses the significance of harm caused by his actions.”

Court-martial punishments include punitive discharge, jail time, hard labor without confinement and loss of pay and benefits. Military courts tout more than an 80% conviction rate.

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He’s done. I know that many CCN readers don’t like Dan Dow, but this was a good move. Sweatland will get hammered by a court martial. His life as he’s known it is over.

Not just CNN readers. Also good folks who live here, veterans even, who are disgusted by this move by Dow.

I’m a veteran. Still serving, actually, getting close to my 20. Dan Dow is right. California law won’t do much. UCMJ will crush him. He could be reduced to O1 and forfeit his benefits, in addition to jail time. You’re entitled to your own opinion, but I’m confident in my statement.

BUT, double jeopardy can cause trouble.

The Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) is not soft on crime.

This justice is only happening because CalCoastNews broke the story. Thank you CCN team. SLO Trib, you do NOTHING for our community.