Lakenheath rape court-martial goes to jury
RAF LAKENHEATH, England — A jury was deliberating into the night Wednesday in the court-martial of a 48th Fighter Wing airman charged with raping two female airmen in separate incidents.
During her closing argument, Capt. Lauren Torczynski — defense counsel for Airman Renato Sanchez del Carpio — told the jury that investigators pinned the two alleged rapes on her client to help bolster their case.
“The government thinks that two are better than one,” she told the jury of two women and five men.
Torczynski said the first incident — which allegedly occurred after a night of partying on Oct. 28, 2005 — wasn’t initially reported as rape. The alleged victim, also an airman, eventually changed her story to say that she and Sanchez had intercourse without her consent.
The change in her story occurred as investigators interviewed her following Sanchez’s second alleged rape of another airman in his dormitory room on Oct. 4, 2006, according to court testimony.
“She lied about being raped,” Torczynski told the panel.
According to testimony during this week’s trial, the first accuser was too drunk to even take off her shoes before going to bed, and didn’t scream or fight off the man who she said broke into her dorm room, undressed her and then raped her.
During his closing, prosecutor Capt. James Gentry argued that the alleged victim didn’t report the rape at first because she wasn’t “ready to deal with the violation that had just happened to her.”
The woman, who was 19 and new to RAF Lakenheath at that time, awoke to a man with dark spiky hair on top of her, raping her, Gentry said.
“A woman asleep cannot give consent,” he told the jury.
Gentry also told the jury that Sanchez was in pursuit of sex that night as he asked a friend of the alleged victim if she wanted a threesome.
In the 2006 incident, Gentry reminded the jury of a recorded conversation that Sanchez and the second alleged victim had after the incident. Sanchez was unaware that Air Force Office of Special Investigations agents were listening in to the conversation.
When confronted by the woman, Sanchez said that he remembered her saying “no” to having sex and that he was sorry for doing it, Gentry said.
“He heard her say ‘no.’ … No means no,” he said.
In defense, Torczynski told the jury that Sanchez admitted that he was sorry just to get her out of the room before she made a scene.
Torczynski said that the sex was either consensual or that Sanchez misread her signals that night.
According to the alleged victim’s testimony, she called Sanchez that night, and he invited her over to his dorm room to watch a movie. Later, both ended up in his bed. She testified she did not fight back, but laid on the bed staring at Sanchez’s closed eyes during the act.
Sanchez did not take the stand in his defense.