Defense attorney Toshimitsu Takaesu gives a press conference following a hearing in the attempted rape trial of Marine Major Michael Brown Thursday. Brown pleaded not guilty.

Defense attorney Toshimitsu Takaesu gives a press conference following a hearing in the attempted rape trial of Marine Major Michael Brown Thursday. Brown pleaded not guilty. (David Allen / S&S)

NAHA, Okinawa — Marine Maj. Michael Brown’s attempted-rape trial here took a turn Thursday that might benefit him.

The 40-year-old officers club cashier that he allegedly attacked Nov. 2 was reluctant to testify against him during a hearing in Naha District Court.

As she was questioned via closed-circuit television, she said she preferred not to testify and had a statement for the three judges in the case. The television monitor facing the press and the public was left blank to protect her privacy.

The woman, a Filipina married to an Okinawan, was told by the chief judge that it was not the proper time to submit any letters or statements, and she had to testify.

“So, you filed a written report making charges of attempted rape and destruction of private property because you wanted to punish the offender?” asked prosecutor Tsuyoshi Satake, through a translator.

There was a long silence. Then, almost in a whisper, the alleged victim said, “I don’t want to answer the question because I don’t want to incriminate myself.”

Stunned, Satake asked, “You are a victim of attempted rape and the destruction of your cellular phone?”

“Not attempted rape, I think,” she answered in English.

Brown is charged with attempting to rape the woman in her car as she drove him to his home near Camp Courtney. In earlier statements, she said she tried to call the police but Brown had snatched the cellular telephone away from her and threw it into a river.

Brown, 40, a 19-year Marine veteran, pleaded not guilty to both charges. He told police the woman became upset when he rebuffed her sexual advances. He said he threw her phone away because she had taken his wallet.

Satake pressed the woman to answer his questions.

“You know, I don’t want to talk,” the woman told the court in broken English. “I have already a statement in my letter I gave to the prosecutor. Can’t you read it?”

Satake again nudged her for a response.

“I don’t want to answer,” she said. “If I answer, I could be punished for telling a lie, you know.”

When asked why she had filed the charges, she answered, “Because he ruined my cell phone, and I had a little bit in pain in my hands and neck, and I was very angry, you know?”

Slowly, however, over the next four hours, the prosecutor was able to draw from her a partial story of the incident. She said when she stopped her car near where Brown said he lived, he grabbed her hands and pushed her down into the seat and fondled her.

But each time the prosecutor pressed for details of the alleged attack, he was met with silence.

After prompting, she said she resisted Brown and he stopped and “apologized like a gentleman.”

“And I forgave him,” she said.

Just as the chimes on the courthouse clock struck 5 p.m., a technical problem caused her monitor to go blank. Attempts during a brief recess failed to fix it, and the alleged victim was told she would have to return to court May 13 to continue her testimony.

“But I don’t want to,” she said. “Could you tell the judge that I don’t have to punish him?”

After the hearing, defense attorney Toshimitsu Takaesu said the woman helped Brown’s case.

“I haven’t seen her letter yet, but I believe from what she said in court today its contents would be favorable to the defendant,” he told reporters. “She refused to testify concerning the details.

“Also, I was convinced that she had little desire to punish the defendant.”

— Chiyomi Sumida contributed to this report.

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