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RAF LAKENHEATH, England — The court-martial of a 48th Fighter Wing airman charged with two counts of rape began Saturday more than two years after the first of two alleged on-base rapes occurred.

The trial of Airman Renato Sanchez del Carpio began with opening statements from the prosecution claiming the suspect had raped a fellow airman after breaking into her dormitory room following a night of partying on Oct. 28, 2005.

The prosecution also alleged that del Carpio raped his ex-girlfriend on Oct. 4, 2006, while she was serving at RAF Lakenheath.

The seven-person jury — two women and five men — heard that neither victim initially wanted to report the alleged rapes and that both incidents were investigated or reinvestigated more robustly following a separate alleged rape of the second victim by a different suspect.

That rape allegation was found to be unfounded. Capt. Drew Roberts, del Carpio’s Air Force defense counsel, asked the jury to focus on the inconsistencies in the victims’ stories.

“Look beyond the emotions in this case. Look beyond the drama in this case,” he said. “And look to the facts of this case.”

The first alleged victim, who is not being identified under Stars and Stripes’ policy of not naming alleged victims of sexual assault, testified for several hours, often breaking off to catch her breath. At one point she asked the judge for a short recess to control her sobbing.

She testified that she had been in the Air Force less than six months when she met del Carpio in First Term Airman Center — an orientation program — the day of the alleged rape.

She contends that she woke up in the night of Oct. 28, 2005, to find Sanchez raping her on her dormitory bed.

“He was groping my breasts and he was raping me,” she charged. “I freaked … I tried to push him off me.”

She acknowledged discrepancies between accounts she provided to investigators at different stages of the probe and that she initially had no interest in reporting the alleged assault. “I didn’t want it to be real. I wanted to pretend it didn’t happen,” she said. “I didn’t want all of this.”

She also testified that she had a run-in with del Carpio, who serves with the 48th Dental Squadron, after the alleged rape when he was scheduled to participate in the removal of her wisdom teeth. She requested he not be present during the procedure.

Del Carpio has not been in pretrial confinement.

The trial is expected to run through this week.


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