Defense opens case in Yokota rape trial
Stars and Stripes June 7, 2003
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — The defense team of an Air Force technical sergeant accused of raping his daughter told jurors Thursday, “There’s another story to be told.”
In opening arguments, Capt. Michael Carrasco alluded to holes the defense sees in the government’s case.
The daughter never reported the alleged crimes to the police, the school or her mother, he said.
When her parents divorced, the girl, then 14, signed a court document agreeing to live with her father, despite her current allegations of child sexual molestation, Carrasco said.
And at her wedding last year, she had her father walk her down the aisle, Carrasco said.
Carrasco is the former area defense counsel at Yokota.
Court proceedings in the case swung into full gear Thursday at Yokota.
The 374th Communications Squadron technical sergeant faces charges of raping his daughter before she was 16, indecent assault and possessing child pornography. He could receive life in prison if convicted of rape.
A jury panel in the general court-martial was selected Thursday. At the defendant’s request, the seven jurors all are officers — three females and four males — ranging in rank from 1st lieutenant to lieutenant colonel.
Co-trial counsel Capt. John Harwood told jurors the accused had a “long history of reprehensible acts” starting with sexual molestation of his daughter that “escalated into” rape.
Harwood said the girl will testify that her father started sexually abusing her when she was five and raped her for the first time when she was 14. The jury also will hear, Harwood said, how the daughter screamed and how the father “muffled those cries with a sharp hand against the face.”
The alleged victim is not the defendant’s biological daughter but married her mother when the alleged victim was about three months old; her birth certificate lists him as the father.
The government called two computer forensics experts from Yokota’s Office of Special Investigations to testify Thursday about computer files confiscated from the accused’s home last fall.
Special Agent John Lee said about 22,000 pornographic images were found on a computer hard drive. Of those, about 700 were believed to be child pornography, Lee testified, adding that more than 3,000 suspected child pornographic images were contained on two compact disks also discovered in the home.
The computer was seized from the sergeant’s bedroom but Lee said he could not tell who had access to or downloaded the images.
“So it could be any member of the household?” Carrasco asked.
“It could,” answered Lee.
Living in the house with the accused at the time was the alleged victim and her two teenage brothers. Lee said the computer in the master bedroom used Windows ‘98, which allowed users to hit cancel instead of entering a password to access all files and folders.
Lee noted that the images were filed in hidden folders.
A “media analysis” of the computer hard drive found in the daughter’s room had some adult porn images, but OSI “found no evidence of child pornography,” Lee said.
Also at the trial Thursday, Special Agent David Gilbert projected four slides of images of suspected child pornography on a large screen, angled out of view of courtroom spectators. The images had been seized from the accused’s home, he testified, adding that small details, such as blemishes, freckles and fine arm hairs, indicated to him the subjects were real people, not digital creations.
Capt. Stacy Vetter, a circuit defense counsel from Kadena Air Base, asked Gilbert whether he knew some of the crowds portrayed in the movie “Titanic” were digitally created.
Gilbert responded that he thought he he’d read that somewhere.