Former Cal Poly ROTC chair facing up to 15 years in prison

November 11, 2023

Jacob Sweatland


An Army Lt. Colonel who served as the chair of Cal Poly’s ROTC program is scheduled for a court martial trial early next year after his hidden camera was discovered in a dressing room in a Pismo Beach store, according to court records.

During his arraignment on Sept. 25, Lt.Col. Jacob Sweatland pleaded not guilty to two counts of indecent recording, one count of behavior unbecoming an officer and one count of resisting apprehension. His trial is scheduled for Jan. 22 at the 3rd Judicial Circuit Court at Fort Knox.

If convicted on all charges, Sweatland faces dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and up to 15 years in a military prison.

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 walked in, 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.

Shortly after his arrest, the Army temporary removed 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.

The SLO County District Attorney’s Office 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.” Even so, under state laws it was unlikely Sweatland would serve any time in jail.

In July, the SLO County District Attorney’s Office filed a motion asking the court to dismiss criminal charges against Sweatland and transfer jurisdiction to the U.S. Army.

“In 2023, California law has very limited criminal sanctions available for someone charged with the crimes Mr. Sweatland committed,” District Attorney Dan Dow said. “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 boast more than an 80% conviction rate.

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Can he and Cole Corrigan be cellmates?

Even if let off the hook in the civilian courts by Newsome’s soft on crime policies, Sweatland will likely be placed on the National Registered Sex Offender database by the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). The stigma of being a Registered Sex Offender will stay with Sweatland for the rest of his life.

I like it that the Army doesn’t mess around and the consequences, if found guilty, for Sweatland’s actions will be severe and not just a hand slapping.