Brown fights order confining him to Okinawa
August 7, 2004
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Marine Maj. Michael Brown is restricted to Okinawa, even while his family is moving to his next duty station in the United States.
Because Brown, 41, appealed his July conviction on charges of attempting to commit an indecent act and destroying private property, Marine officials have kept him on the international hold status he has been under since he made bail in May 2003, his attorney Toshimitsu Takaesu said Thursday.
“He has received orders for a new assignment in the Washington, D.C., area, but because an appeal is pending in a Japanese court, the international hold remains in effect — even while his wife and children move back to the States.”
He said Brown, a 20-year Marine veteran, has been granted two weeks of leave to help his family get settled.
“But he must come back to Okinawa after the leave time is over,” Takaesu said.
Brown was indicted in December 2002 on charges of of attempting to rape Victoria Nakamine, 40, a Filipina barmaid, on Nov. 2, 2002, after she offered him a lift from the Camp Courtney Officers Club to his home in nearby Ishikawa.
According to testimony during the 19-month trial, Nakamine parked her car on a dark road fronting the Tengen River, and they engaged in consensual petting until he attempted to go too far and she asked him to stop. When she threatened to call Okinawa police, Brown snatched her cellular phone and threw it into the river.
The three-judge panel had found Brown guilty of a lesser charge of attempting to commit an indecent act. He was also found guilty of destroying Nakamine’s phone. Brown was sentenced to one year in prison, suspended for three years.
Brown appealed the decision to the Naha Branch of the Fukuoka High Court on July 22, arguing that he was never indicted or charged with attempting to force the woman to commit sodomy.
When Brown was released on bail in May 2003, after Nakamine testified he had not tried to rape her, he was placed on a hold status that prevented him from leaving Japan.
Takaesu said Marine officials informed Brown that the legal hold will remain in effect through the appeals process because the court conceivably could reverse the lower court ruling and sentence him to prison.
He said he tried to convince the Marine officials that because the prosecution decided not to appeal the decision, the higher court could not give Brown a sentence worse than the suspended sentence issued by the Naha District Court judges.
The Marines are considering his argument, he said.
“However, no decision has been made yet by the military whether or not to lift the international hold on him,” Takaesu said. “I am not involved in those negotiations because it is a matter within the military.”
The Marines have declined to comment on Brown’s status, claiming it’s a private personnel matter. Brown and his wife, Lisa, have declined requests through their attorney for interviews.
— Chiyomi Sumida contributed to this report.
Marine says he’ll sue Japanese paper
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Marine Maj. Michael Brown has notified a Japanese newspaper he intends to sue for slander.
In a July 28 letter obtained by Stars and Stripes, Brown informed the Ryukyu Shimpo newspaper he intends to sue the newspaper for falsely stating he had been found guilty of attempted rape.
Brown has demanded the Japanese-language daily newspaper pay him 5 million yen (about $45,021), apologize publicly and retract an article stating he’d been found guilty of attempting to rape a Filipina barmaid Nov. 2, 2002, after she gave him a lift from the Camp Courtney Officers Club.
Brown actually was found guilty of less serious charges including attempting to commit an indecent act and destroying of private property. He was sentenced to a year in prison, suspended for three years.
“I was shocked and offended when several of my Okinawa friends called me to ask if this was true,” Brown stated in the letter. “I can tell that my Japanese friends look at me differently as a result of what they read.”
He said the mistake was repeated in a brief article in the paper’s weekly English page a week later.
“This slander has been very damaging to me and has caused great stress on my family,” he wrote. “There was plenty of time for a responsible newspaper to ensure the facts and translation were correct. I can only assume that such defamatory journalism was intentional on the part of your newspaper.”
The newspaper ran a correction in its Japanese edition on July 29, six days before the paper received Brown’s letter, said Junichi Tomita, Ryukyu Shimpo assistant managing editor.
The newspaper received Brown’s letter, postmarked July 28, on Aug. 8, Tomita said. “Prior to that, however, Mr. Takaesu contacted us pointing out the error in our headline. We ran a correction in our paper dated July 29, after recognizing that the headline was clearly incorrect.” Toshimitsu Takaesu is Brown’s lawyer.
In the English edition the statement was headlined “Correction and Apology.”
“We present our deepest apologies to Major Brown for the regrettable error and for the trouble it has caused him and those around him,” part of the correction read.
“Michael Brown is not satisfied with the printed correction,” Takaesu said.
“We regret that such an error occurred,” Tomita said. According to Brown’s letter, the editor said, the Marine is planning to sue. “If he does, our attorney will discuss the issue with Mr. Takaesu.”
— David Allen
— Chiyomi Sumida contributed to this report.