At Brown trial, investigator denies coercing allegations
January 29, 2004
NAHA, Okinawa — An Okinawa policewoman wept on the stand Tuesday while testifying in the attempted-rape trial of Marine Maj. Michael Brown.
Kyoko Yamane told how she spent months befriending Victoria Nakamine, who accused Brown of attempting to rape her Nov. 2, 2002; Yamane said she felt betrayed when Nakamine said she didn’t want to go to court and had found it in her heart to forgive the 40-year-old Marine.
Brown is accused of attempting to rape Nakamine when she was giving him a ride to his Gushikawa home from the Camp Courtney Officers Club. He also is charged with destroying private property by throwing her cellular phone into a river when she threatened to call police.
He pleaded not guilty to both charges; the trial has proceeded — in spurts of two hearings a month — for more than a year.
Yamane said she sympathized with Nakamine when she took the club worker’s statement. She told the court Nakamine was angry and said she wanted police to find the Marine who had molested her when she stopped her car along a deserted riverside road to talk.
Yamane said Nakamine claimed the man, whom she later identified as Brown, tried to remove her clothes and force her to perform a sex act before she was able to struggle free and run from the car. She said Nakamine bore the marks of a struggle.
“When I examined her physical condition, I noticed red spots on both arms, from being pressed hard,” Yamane said. “A similar red spot was also observed on the nape of her neck. I saw them very clearly.”
“Did you ask her if she wanted to file charges?” asked prosecutor Tsuyoshi Satake during Tuesday’s court session.
The police officer said the bar hostess told her, “‘I was almost raped, I was almost killed, my feet are shaking, I will never forgive him — such a high-ranking officer did this, and I want to punish him.’”
According to Yamane, Nakamine said she wanted to check first to see if filing charges against the Marine would cause difficulties for her employer, an Okinawa agency that provided part-time help on Marine bases. Six days later, Nakamine filed a formal complaint, Yamane said.
Nakamine’s account when she filed charges was the same she gave the day of the incident, Yamane said.
In the months that followed, the two women struck up a friendship, the police officer said.
On Dec. 19, Yamane told the court, she phoned Nakamine to tell her Brown had been indicted.
“She did not complain or indicate that she did not want to prosecute,” Yamane said.
That’s why a meeting she had with Nakamine and the prosecutor the day before the trial began was so upsetting, Yamane said. “She told the same story,” Yamane said of the meeting. “But then she said she did not want to testify, that she could forgive him.”
Yamane paused to reach for a handkerchief in her coat pocket and dabbed at her eyes.
“I was stunned. I was surprised. I had this unexplainable feeling and wondered what could have happened,” Yamane said.
She said she was even more stunned a month later, when Nakamine testified that “the criminal complaint is not based on my voluntary will, and the police and the prosecutor know it.”
Nakamine told the court then that the kissing and fondling in the car was consensual, and when she complained, Brown stopped.
Nakamine also contended she did not understand Japanese sufficiently to be able to read the statements police and the prosecutor had her sign.
Yamane testified Tuesday that Nakamine preferred to speak Japanese in all their conversations and had pointed out changes to be made in her original statements to police.
“So how do you feel toward her now?” the prosecutor asked.
“I want her to stand firm and tell the whole truth,” Yamane said.
Brown’s trial is to resume Feb. 10, when the defense will cross-examine Yamane.