Lance corporal pleads guilty in Okinawa rape case
NAHA, Okinawa — A Marine lance corporal pleaded guilty Thursday in Naha District Court to beating and raping a 19-year-old Okinawa woman May 25 near Camp Hansen.
Jose W. Torres, 21, dressed in a buttoned-down, long-sleeved black shirt and dark-green corduroy pants, stood in an at-ease posture, his hands clasped behind his back, as he softly told a three- judge panel he was guilty.
“Do you admit the charge as stated in the indictment?” asked Chief Judge Nobuyuki Yokota.
Torres hung his head slightly as he listened to the question translated into English.
“Yes, ma’am,” he told the translator. He then sat on a bench in front of the defense table, slumped slightly between two uniformed guards, and listened to the details of the prosecution’s case against him.
Torres, assigned to Headquarters and Service Company, 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Hansen, has been held in the Naha Detention Center since Marines surrendered him to Japanese authorities June 19.
He was turned over prior to his indictment under special conditions of the Status of Forces Agreement between the United States and Japan that cover servicemembers charged with “heinous crimes,” such as rape and murder.
Prosecutor Tsuyoshi Satake said Torres signed a confession that stated he met the woman at a bar in the town of Kin, next to Camp Hansen, late in the evening of May 24. After drinking and dancing he went for a walk with the woman around 3 a.m. May 25.
Satake said Torres, who has a wife and child in California, admitted he kissed the woman and she complained, saying she had a boyfriend. He apologized and they continued their walk, Satake said.
He said Torres admitted that he grabbed the woman’s hair and forced her into an alley, punching her in the face when she attempted to resist and breaking her nose. He said Torres then fondled and raped the woman.
Satake took a break and his charge was read in English as Torres hung his head.
“Do you understand?” the translator asked.
“Yes, ma’am,” he answered meekly.
Satake than read a statement by the woman.
“I never showed him anything which may have indicated I had any feelings toward the accused,” she had written. “When he kissed me I told him ‘no’ in plain English.
“There’s no reason why anything bad like this should have happened to me, and yet I was raped. It was terrifying. It makes me miserable and I can never forgive him and I want him to go to jail forever — as long as he lives.”
Satake said Torres at first contended he had consensual sex with the woman, and then hit her when they argued afterward.
It wasn’t until he was interviewed after being in what amounts to solitary confinement during the interrogation process that he changed his story, Satake said.
“He said he thought of the Bible and decided to be honest,” Satake said. “So he admitted to the crime and confessed.”
He said Torres told him that anyone who committed such a crime was a monster.
“But I am not a monster anymore,” Satake said the young Marine told him. “I read the Bible, and I apologize to the victim.”
Torres, who faces a sentence of two years to life in a Japanese prison, said he had no complaints concerning how he was questioned and treated while in confinement.
The next hearing in the case is scheduled for Aug. 13. Torres’ attorney said he will not call any witnesses and that Torres will testify and then make a formal apology.
The case’s final arguments also are scheduled for the next hearing.