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But Col. Sean Gibson, a Corps spokesman for the Marine command in Quantico, Va., denied the charge.

“Lt. Gen. Kenneth Glueck, who assumed command of Marine Corps Combat Development Command in August, reviewed the case over a matter of weeks in his new role as the convening authority,” Col. Gibson said. “He determined that an administrative process is more appropriate to address Capt. Clement’s alleged conduct.

“The rights of Capt. Clement to fair and impartial treatment under the military judicial process and administrative processes have been and continue to be upheld.”

Mr. Dowd’s Marine Corps ties trace to the 1960s. His brother, Tom, a Marine lieutenant, was killed in Vietnam. Another brother, Dennis, and a sister, Pat, were also Marines. Two sons are in the Corps today.

It was one of those sons, Maj. Daniel Dowd, who told him about Capt. Clement.

“When James was charged, Dan asked me to help him,” Mr. Dowd said. “I was honored. The firm was delighted to do it as part of our pro bono program.” He is a partner in the Washington law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP.

Mr. Dowd left the Corps in 1969 and began a long legal career, first as a trial lawyer at the Justice Department. In private practice, he defended Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, in the “Keating Five” scandal, as well as Arizona Gov. Fife Symington in another corruption case.

He is the “Dowd” in the famous “Dowd Report” that documented Mr. Rose’s baseball bets. A. Bartlett Giamatti, commissioner of Major League Baseball, cited the report in persuading Mr. Rose to leave the game for life.

As a “kitchen cabinet” member, Mr. Dowd has helped Marine families referred to him by Gen. Amos. One case involved acquiring veterans’ benefits for the widow of an officer who committed suicide. Mr. Dowd said the cabinet has not met in two years.

His next step is to defend Capt. Clement before an administrative board of inquiry that will determine whether he is allowed to stay in the Corps or be separated for misconduct.

He said all evidence shows that Capt. Clement was not present at the desecration and did not know about the video, making it impossible for him to stop it.