Alleged victims testify in major’s South Korea rape trial
CAMP HENRY, South Korea — Did U.S. Army Maj. Jeffrey L. Brown rape a private first class and then have consensual sex with her friend — another 19-year-old soldier — on the same night in September 2003? And did he maintain a six-month sexual relationship with the friend?
At a general court-martial that began Monday, Army prosecutor Capt. Trevor Barna argued that Brown is guilty of rape, sodomy and fraternization for a Sept. 30, 2003, incident that began with the three soldiers drinking for several hours in off-base establishments. Brown is also charged with violating a lawful general order for breaking curfew earlier this year.
Brown pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
Barna told a court-martial panel of five officers — four males and one female — that the 2003 case “boils down to nothing more than simple right and wrong.”
But civilian defense attorney Gary Myers said the women’s testimony was “staled by 18 months of ‘failure to report.’”
He said his client did nothing more than help the women: from offering them a place to sleep when they were too drunk to return to their camp one night to baby sitting one’s dog and — later — helping her seek to abort a baby fathered by another man.
And when the command caught whiff of the rumored abortion — and the pregnant woman’s alleged relationship with Brown — and investigated her in 2004, the woman signed a statement saying she had no inappropriate relationship with his client, Myers said.
It wasn’t until the Army Criminal Investigation Command (CID) “descended upon” her this year that she decided Brown was the “embodiment of evil,” Myers said.
Myers wanted the jurors to “listen carefully,” if the woman testified that she had consensual sex with the major shortly after she claims she watched him rape her friend.
Monday was an emotional and sometimes uncomfortable day in the small courtroom, with both women crying often during the testimony. Both the prosecutor and defense attorneys requested recesses to give them breaks.
The women testified that they were afraid to return to their camp for fear of being charged with underage drinking, which would be the second offense for both of them.
Both testified they were drunk that night. When one passed out, her friend put her in Brown’s bed to sleep.
The woman then had one last drink with the major before crawling into the bed with her sleeping friend. She testified that Brown entered the room and began to fondle her. Upset, she left the room, leaving Brown with her friend.
She testified she heard a noise and, upon investigating, found Brown naked on top of her friend, whose shorts were off. She said she pulled her friend from bed, dressed her and they left the apartment. She claims Brown followed them out of the apartment and apologized repeatedly.
Broke, drunk and tired, she said they decided to return.
After putting her friend back to bed, she stated, she had consensual sex with Brown — beginning a nearly six-month relationship with the divorced father of two.
She was investigated twice about their relationship — once in October 2004 and a second time in May 2005. She said she lied during the first investigation because “I was scared … I didn’t want to get in trouble.”
When CID questioned her in May, she said, she finally told the truth.
“It was too much,” she said of her relationship with the major. “I didn’t want to keep it hidden anymore.”
CID agents then contacted the woman who allegedly was raped.
That woman was unable to answer many of the questions Monday, stating that she was too drunk that night to remember much, only “bits and pieces.” She stated she bought her own drinks — while her friend stated Brown bought their drinks.
She also said she didn’t remember whether she was using a feminine hygiene product because she began her menstrual period that night, something that Myers said would prevent a rape.
But she said she did remember one part of the night.
“I remember waking up to Major Brown being on top of me,” she said with tears in her eyes. “Major Brown was having sex with me.”
She said she told him to stop and pushed him off of her.
She said she thought of the incident as a “drunken mishap,” not really rape, because she had been gang-raped as a 12-year-old and that was her experience.
“It’s a totally different aspect,” she told Barna.
Myers, who co-counseled with Army Capt. Pia Rogers, asked the other woman how she could leave a passed-out friend with a man who had fondled her.
The woman, crying, said, “I was not sexually active and I trusted that he wouldn’t bother her knowing that she was drunk and passed out.”
So, he countered, after seeing him attack your friend, you leave, and then come back and “the first thing you do is have sex with him?”
“Yes,” she answered.
When the prosecutor asked the same question, she said Brown, “was persistent and I felt like I was taking her place.” She said she thought if she would just have sex with him he would leave them alone.
Myers pointed out that tough questioning from CID and the threat of getting in trouble “is when all this information — 18 months later — came spilling out.”
The charge of violating the order was in connection with a June 5 incident in which Brown was apprehended off base after the mandatory 1 a.m. curfew.
Both prosecution and defense rested their cases Monday afternoon and were to present closing arguments to the court Tuesday morning.