CAMP CASEY, South Korea — A 2nd Infantry Division soldier was sentenced to 11 years in prison Friday after being found guilty of raping two female soldiers.
Pfc. Jose Antonio Claudio, of the 1st Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 4th Chemical Company, also received a dishonorable discharge, a rank reduction to E-1 and must forfeit all pay.
Claudio choked back tears in Camp Casey’s courtroom throughout his sentencing, as did his sister in the gallery. His father, a military retiree who suffers from dementia, clasped his daughter’s hand and watched silently.
Claudio’s hands shook as he read his unsworn statement and apologized to his family and unit.
“There is no excuse, there is no taking back,” Claudio said. “There is only realizing my wrong and taking responsibility.”
Military judge Col. Gregory Gross found that Claudio raped a private first class in her barracks room Dec. 22, after which Claudio was sent to another company.
He then raped a second private first class in his barracks room Jan. 27.
Each victim testified to emotional difficulties following the incidents.
The Jan. 27 victim said she still has nightmares and takes sleeping pills prescribed by her psychiatrist.
“I don’t want to be in the military anymore because of this,” she said. “I don’t feel safe.”
During closing arguments, prosecutor Capt. Charles Halverson quoted Claudio as saying: “I had completely messed up, if I had just thought about it.”
Defense attorneys Capt. John Cho and Capt. John Ko cited the first victim’s use of lubricant during the incident and her subsequent friendly exchange on Claudio’s Myspace.com page to question if sex could have been consensual.
Halverson said the first victim grabbed lubricant because she saw no chance to escape, but could at least ease her pain.
Cho and Ko also pointed to contradictory testimony over what the second victim told other soldiers.
One soldier testified that the second victim told her she needed stitches following the rape. The victim denied making those remarks.
Maj. (Dr.) Charmaine Kaula, who examined the victim, testified she saw nothing that required stitches.
“When you are caught in a lie, or have to explain sex, you may remember things differently,” Cho said in reference to the victim, who is married.
Halverson acknowledged the second victim’s testimony conflicted in some areas but said that didn’t change what happened.
“When both sets of facts are put together, they still add up to rape,” said Halverson, who tried the case alongside Capt. Marlin Paschal.
The sentence will now be passed to the convening authority for approval. Should Claudio’s conviction be upheld, he will have to register as a sex offender following his release from prison.