Emotions run high at 4th day of tech sergeant's court-martial for rape
Stars and Stripes June 8, 2003
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — The alleged victim in a case pitting daughter against father said in court Friday that the defendant began sexually molesting her when she was 5 and raped her about four times as a teenager.
Now 21 and married, the woman broke down into tears once during lengthy questioning from prosecutors, the defense and military jurors.
Both sides rested their case Friday afternoon following four days of court proceedings, and the jury was to reconvene Saturday morning to hear closing arguments and possibly begin deliberations.
The 374th Communications Squadron technical sergeant has pleaded not guilty to rape, indecent assault and possession of child pornography. Earlier in the week, he pleaded guilty to secretly videotaping his daughter in her room at Yokota Air Base.
Though the technical sergeant doesn’t face charges of child molestation, attorneys for the government were permitted to question the daughter about the alleged abuse because, they argue, it shows a propensity to commit the alleged later acts of rape.
The woman said when she was a little girl, her father would slip into her bedroom at night and touch her sexually.
“I would act like I was sleeping and try to wrap myself in my blanket as tight as I could,” she said.
“At any time, did this abuse escalate?” asked Capt. Christopher Schumann, the government’s circuit trial counsel.
“Yes,” she replied, starting to sob. “When I was 14.”
“What happened?” said Schumann.
“He raped me,” she said.
The first alleged rape occurred at the family’s home in Georgia, where the sergeant was assigned to Robins Air Force Base, the woman testified.
She said it happened several months after her parents divorced; her father told her she had to sleep in his bedroom that night, she testified.
When he allegedly started to rape her, she cried out and screamed, and her father “smashed” his hand up against her face and told her to “shut up,” she said.
During the alleged subsequent rapes, the woman said she did not try to fend off her father, scared that he would muffle her breaths and smash her face like he did the first time.
The woman also alleges her father sexually touched her soon after the family arrived at Yokota in November 1999 and roomed in billeting — the basis for the indecent-assault charge.
He would tell her she had to do certain things before going out with friends, she said.
Defense lawyers indicated Friday they’ll argue the daughter consented to the alleged sex acts and indecent assault.
Capt. Stacey Vetter, circuit defense counsel, asked the woman whether her father put a gun to her head or a knife to her throat during the supposed rapes. The woman said no.
Did she think to call 911 or wake her brothers to tell them what had happened, Vetter asked. Again, the woman said no.
“I was scared. I didn’t know what was going to happen. [I was] embarrassed. I didn’t even know if anyone would believe me,” she said.
The defense pointed out that the defendant is not the biological father, though he’s named on the daughter’s birth certificate.
The woman testified that she did tell her brother and a friend about her father’s alleged indiscretions but never made an official report.
The defense entered into evidence a letter the woman wrote to her father upon graduating from Yokota High School in 2000.
The typewritten note for a senior class project, said, in part: “Thank you for ... the advice, the love, the time you have spent with me. Words can’t even express the amount of gratitude I have. Thanks, Dad ...”
The woman, who married an airman formerly assigned to Yokota last summer, said she told her husband about her father after the two got into an argument about her past relationships with men.
“After you tell him this, the argument stopped?” Vetter asked.
“In a way, yes,” said the woman.
The husband reported the alleged crimes to the Office of Special Investigations — against the woman’s wishes.
OSI later outfitted her with a body-wire to transmit and tape-record a conversation between daughter and father.
On Friday, the prosecution played the tape, in which she confronts her father about the alleged rapes and sexual abuse. The jury followed a transcript of the conversation, as the technical sergeant’s voice was often inaudible to court spectators.
At one point on the tape, he is heard saying, “I don’t know what’s wrong up here as far as that goes.” The woman said he pointed to his head at the time.
He also said, “It’s all my fault,” and “all I can do is try and never do anything like that again.”
Schumann asked the woman what her father’s emotional state was during the conversation.
“He was crying,” she said.
Did he ever deny the allegations of rape, Schumann asked.
“No,” she said.