Kunsan airman goes on trial for alleged dorm-room rape
PYEONGTAEK, South Korea — An airman stationed at Kunsan Air Base in South Korea went on trial there Tuesday on charges he allegedly broke into a female airman’s dorm room last April and raped her.
Senior Airman Eric L. Barber, 23, of the 8th Logistics Readiness Squadron is charged with rape, burglary and making a false official statement, according to Capt. Richard Komurek, spokesman for the 8th Fighter Wing at Kunsan Air Base. The wing is also known as the Wolf Pack.
The charge of making a false official statement came after Barber allegedly gave Air Force investigators conflicting written accounts of the alleged incident, Komurek said.
Military judge in the jury trial is Air Force Col. Steven A. Hatfield, chief military judge of the Pacific Circuit, out of Yokota Air Base, Japan.
According to prosecutors in the general court-martial, the April 9 incident occurred just days after the Wolf Pack had completed a major biannual inspection known as an ORI, or operational readiness inspection.
Barber and the female airman lived in the same dorm and were drinking together at an on-base lounge, when, sometime between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m., Barber and one other airman escorted the female to her room, saw that she got into bed, and left.
“They put her to bed,” said Komurek. “And then sometime before midnight, the accused returned to the room and allegedly raped her,” he said.
The other airman, Senior Airman David Comstock, testified Tuesday that he and Barber left the woman in a passed-out state, Komurek said. Comstock and Barber are members of the same squadron.
Defense lawyer Capt. Christina Jimenez told the court that Barber contends that he and the alleged victim had consensual sex, Komurek said. Jimenez is circuit defense counsel assigned to Yokota Air Base.
The woman told a friend in her unit she’d been raped. The friend told their unit first sergeant, who in turn notified the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, Komurek said.
OSI agents questioned Barber in the case on April 15. He provided two written statements, which allegedly conflicted, said Komurek, leading to the charge of making a false official statement.
The Air Force charged Barber in the case June 1. An Article 32 pretrial investigation hearing was held June 30.
Conviction on any of the three charges carries a maximum penalty of total forfeiture of pay and allowances, reduction to E-1, the lowest military pay grade, a dishonorable discharge, and a prison term: for rape, life imprisonment; for burglary, 10 years; for making a false official statement, five years, Komurek said.
The trial was set to resume Wednesday.