Army Sergeant found not guilty of rape
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — A seven-member court-martial panel found an Army sergeant not guilty of raping a civilian woman following nearly 4½ hours of deliberation Monday evening.
Sgt. Donyea L. Foster, of the 275th Signal Company, was cleared of all charges — including rape and committing indecent acts — in connection with the Jan. 25 incident.
But the jury found him guilty of willfully disobeying a superior commissioned officer and of drunk and disorderly conduct for an off-base argument with military police that took place in February, when he was still restricted to base while being investigated on the rape charges.
The jury was to begin the sentencing phase of the general court-martial trial on Tuesday. Foster faces up to 5½ years in prison, a dishonorable discharge and total forfeiture of all pay and allowances for the charges of which he was found guilty.
Prosecutors Capt. Matthew Williams and Capt. Cesar Casal argued that Foster raped the 19-year-old woman, the daughter of an Army officer, in the bathroom of the U.N. Club in Itaewon earlier this year.
The woman testified Monday that she was in Seoul at the time to visit her family and befriended some soldiers in the local club scene. They went to the U.N. Club, just outside Yongsan Garrison, that night to dance, and she said she drank seven mixed drinks.
She said she became drunk, started to feel nauseated and went to the bathroom to vomit.
She said Foster, whom she had met in the club the week before, entered the toilet stall, locked the door, fondled her and then raped her as she bent over the toilet.
She said she felt “disgusting, disgusted, terrified,” about what was happening but that she didn’t have the physical ability to stop Foster. She said she pushed his hands away and pleaded with him to stop, but that he only laughed at her.
“I was too weak and at the same time in shock at what was going on,” she said.
Back in the club, one of her friends asked a female soldier to check on her.
That female soldier testified Monday that after knocking on the door and not receiving an answer, she entered the adjacent stall, climbed on the toilet and peeked into the first stall.
She said she was “shocked,” to see Foster standing behind the woman with her pants around her ankles, but that it didn’t appear to be rape because “I didn’t see a struggle or anything.”
“It looked like they were having sex,” the woman testified.
She said she went back into the club and told her husband. He entered the bathroom with a friend and they pounded on the stall door. During testimony Monday, both men said Foster exited the stall saying nothing was wrong and that nothing had happened in the stall.
Defense attorneys Capt. Jack Ko and Capt. Michael Korte alleged the woman “fabricated the story” because she was afraid of getting in trouble with her strict parents.
Williams, however, countered that if the woman wanted to avoid having her parents find out about the incident, it would have made more sense to stick to Foster’s story that nothing happened.
Monday’s guilty findings stem from a Feb. 28 incident in which Foster left base and went to another Itaewon club with a group of friends — even though he was restricted to base.
In his opening statement, Ko told the jurors that Foster’s first sergeant told him she didn’t think he was still on restriction. But the defense didn’t offer any evidence to support that claim.
When Foster and his friends left the Cancun Club that night, they stopped at a sidewalk food vendor outside the U.N. Club. While there, Foster was approached by military police, who had been told that he had punched a South Korean taxi driver.
Two female military police soldiers testified Monday that Foster refused to provide his military identification card, became argumentative and demanded that they stand “at parade rest” while speaking to him because he outranked them.
At one point, a private first class testified, Foster called her “a cute little E-2.”
He eventually gave the MPs his ID card. When he attempted to leave, one MP said, she blocked his route and he pushed her to the side once and shoved her a second time.
During his closing argument, Williams asked the jury to keep in consideration the fact that Foster registered a .19 blood alcohol count when finally apprehended on base early the next morning for the run-in with the military police.
“Who is more credible?” he asked of the interaction between the sergeant and the junior military police soldier.
The jury found Foster not guilty of charges he failed to show his ID card and of assaulting the military police officer.