CAMP CASEY, South Korea — There were two versions of what happened at the Milan Hotel on May 4, 2007.
Either Sgt. Michael D. Daniels raped a junior enlisted soldier after a night of drinking in Dongducheon, or the woman had consensual sex and accused Daniels of rape to explain a large hickey to her new boyfriend.
The six-member court-martial jury, after deliberating 30 minutes, found Daniel not guilty in a Camp Casey courtroom Friday.
“This is a case about regret, nothing more,” defense lawyer Capt. Brigid Osei-Bobie said. “She couldn’t explain the glaring hickey on her neck to an angry boyfriend.”
According to lawyers’ statements and testimony from Daniels and the female soldier, the night went like this:
The woman and a friend, Pfc. Jason Coltrain, left Cowboys nightclub late May 3 for a nearby kebab store.
Daniels, a noncommissioned officer in her unit, “tagged along,” according to testimony.
Coltrain and the woman were ready to head back to Camp Casey’s main gate when Daniels, of the 1st Brigade Special Troops Battalion, suggested that he and the woman take a taxi to the Camp Hovey gate instead.
Coltrain asked Daniels for identification to prove he was a sergeant, and then relented.
But Daniels and the woman didn’t return to the base.
Instead, they stopped for an hour at a bar near Jihaeng Station, a 10-minute drive from the main gate, and then checked into the Milan Hotel for the night, which was a violation of U.S. Forces Korea’s servicemember curfew.
While the woman checked her MySpace Web page, Daniels took his shirt off and got under the covers. She later lay down, fully clothed, on top of the sheets.
Daniels began talking about sex.
At this point, the two stories differ.
“She told me she liked casual sex like a guy does,” Daniels said.
“I told him that’s not what I wanted,” the woman told prosecutor Capt. Jeremy Steward.
Daniels says she began taking off her clothes and that he helped. Then she willingly had sex, he said.
The woman said she closed her eyes, frozen in fear, while he pulled her clothes off. He overpowered her, she said, ignoring her cry of “no” while she pushed against his chest.
Daniels said that never happened.
The woman never went for help while Daniels showered, and she didn’t report the incident for eight days, according to court testimony.
Forensic psychologist Denise Harris testified that sexual assault victims sometimes display “counterintuitive behavior,” acting in unexpected ways as a response to trauma.
Under defense co-counsel Capt. Jack Ko’s cross-examination, Harris also said that the top reason for false rape reporting was the need for an alibi.
The woman’s boyfriend, who at the time had dated her casually for a month, said he was irritated but not overly upset when he saw the hickey on her neck the next day.
“She took it worse than I did,” he said.
He also said she has become withdrawn ever since that night and mashed a pillow in her face when they watched a sexual assault scene in a movie, among other adverse reactions.