Fellow sailor testifies in Okinawa court-martial
May 27, 2006
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — A night of drinking, memory loss and a female sailor being treated for post-traumatic stress disorder all emerged as issues Thursday in the court-martial of a sailor currently assigned to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit.
Petty Officer 3rd Class Samuel Salas is accused of sexually assaulting a female sailor on Camp Hansen in August 2005. In a court-martial that began Thursday and was to continue Friday, he was being tried on charges of sodomy, indecent assault and making false official statements.
Salas is a corpsman with the 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, home-based in Camp Pendleton, Calif., which was serving as the 31st MEU’s Ground Combat Element when the incident occurred.
The woman testified that when she first met Salas in April 2005 he made sexual advances, which she resisted.
“I’m not looking for a one-night stand,” she told the court.
On Aug. 27, 2005, the woman said, she was at The Palms enlisted club. She said Salas was there and repeatedly asked her to leave with him. After consuming about 2½ pitchers of beer, she said, she agreed.
The woman said she thought they were going to sit and talk but Salas led her toward a nearby softball field and shoved her to the ground, causing her to hit her head.
“The next thing I remember is he was kissing me hard,” she testified. “There is a blank spot between me hitting my head and him kissing me.”
The woman said she blacked out again and next remembered him performing oral sex. She told the six-member jury panel that she pushed him away and told him to stop. She said Salas then helped her dress and took her to her barracks.
When the woman reached the barracks, she was trying to fix her clothes and her hair was messed up, testified Sgt. Melvin Livermon, the Marine on duty.
“I asked her what was wrong and she told me to ‘Get that bastard away from me,’” Livermon said. “She wasn’t the same person she normally is.”
Livermon at first told Salas to wait but told him to leave after the woman said she wanted only for Salas to leave.
The woman said she didn’t accuse Salas of the assault then because “I felt embarrassed, humiliated and disgusting … dirty.”
Several days later, she talked to Naval Criminal Investigative Service special agent Lloyd Brown.
Brown testified that the woman declined a sexual assault kit exam, saying she hadn’t been raped.
“There was no likelihood of finding evidence,” he said. “She had showered and washed her clothes.”
Salas’ lawyer, Maj. Jeffrey Munoz, asked Brown why he took no photos of bruises the woman claimed she had.
“She did not report bruises,” Brown said.
Munoz asked the female sailor about her Iraq tour. She said she since has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, has been taking anti-depressants and sleeping pills and has been seeing a mental health counselor.
Defense witness Cmdr. John Lyszczarz, U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa mental health department head, testified that alcohol consumption usually doesn’t produce such memory lapses such as the woman reported and that medications she was taking probably wouldn’t have affected her memory significantly.
But, he said, extreme stress can cause momentary memory lapses.