Marines to charge corporal with attempted murder; family says she has PTSD after assault
By KATHERINE HAFNER | The Virginian-Pilot | Published: October 28, 2020
NORFOLK, Va. (Tribune News Service) — The
Military prosecutors say that’s when she attacked her boyfriend, and have now formally referred nine violations of the Uniformed Code of Military Justice including aggravated assault on an intimate partner, burglary and communicating a threat. She will face a general court-martial in March.
The victim, Ohu’s then-boyfriend, who’s also a Marine, previously asked officials not to pursue the charges, telling them he believed the incident could be tied to her service-related trauma.
Meanwhile, following her family’s push and The Virginian-Pilot’s reporting in July, Ohu’s story has been shared widely online and in advocacy circles as emblematic of larger structural issues with how the military treats sexual assault victims.
A Facebook page called Justice For
“The co-occurring legal and medical problems she faced made it hard to determine whether she broke the law or the system broke her first," he wrote.
Ohu, an administrative specialist with the
In 2015, while stationed in
It’s unclear when exactly she first reported the assault to military officials, but she wrote in a letter to a senator earlier this year that she told her command in 2018. She was diagnosed with PTSD that year.
“I have continuously expressed my issues and I have mentioned my sexual assault to my leadership since,” Ohu wrote in the letter. “However, I did not receive the care from my Command that I needed and instead they put me in a more grieving and hostile working environment that was degrading my mental health treatments instead of improving it.”
“It is inappropriate to publicly comment about sexual assault investigations,” officials said in a statement this summer. “The
Ohu’s mental health progressively worsened, and earlier this year she attempted suicide. She was pushing for medical retirement.
The alleged attack happened on
At a preliminary hearing at Naval Station Norfolk in August, military prosecutors briefly laid out what they say happened.
They played a home security video picturing the doorstep of the
Though Ohu is charged with attempted murder, the boyfriend wasn’t physically harmed in the incident.
That night, Ohu was arrested and taken to an inpatient facility. She was released a few days later with a protective order against her boyfriend but violated it later that month by showing up at his house again and breaking in, according to prosecutors.
At the August hearing, Ohu’s then-attorney
“Cpl. Ohu is not a criminal. She’s a Marine who’s in mental distress,” he said. “What’s documented here is a plea for help.”
He said Ohu was on suicide watch in solitary confinement and “shackled all day" — which brig officials have disputed.
He added that he knew her mental health “is going to be an issue in this case.”
Hinesley, the victim of the crimes, wrote a letter to Marine officials in the spring — provided to the Pilot by Phyu — saying he didn’t think they should pursue charges. Hinesley has not responded to a reporter’s requests for comment.
“Thae has gone through serious turmoil, pain, and suffering since she was sexually assaulted by another Marine,” Hinesley wrote. “Taking care of victims of sexual violence is what we do as
Ohu is now being represented by attorney
He said of all the cases he’s taken, Ohu ranks among the top five in terms of the severity of her mental health condition.
“I’m very concerned about her welfare,” Montalvo said. “I think her mental health issues are much more involved and impactful to the case than has been previously considered. I’m going to work to make sure they’re brought to full view for this to be accounted for.”
Gillums, of AMVETS, said in an interview with The Pilot this week that, when he first read about Ohu’s case, it reminded him of other cases he’s seen that revolve around military sexual assault in which an initial, unresolved trauma can lead to situations that spiral out of control.
He said since writing the Military Times column, he’s connected with Ohu’s family and looked into her case further, which has led to even more questions and concerns.
The fact Ohu was first taken to an inpatient facility before jail shows that officials knew she needed help, Gillums said.
“It appears to be a heavy-handed approach to her incarceration,” he said. “It seems to me another case of systematic retaliation against an accuser.”
Phyu said in an email this week that her sister is lonely, unable to talk to anyone while separated from other prisoners.
“Thae is not getting the care she needs. ... it just keeps getting worse,” Phyu said. “This is detrimental to her mental health, which has lasting affects(sic) not only on her, but her whole family. We are all struggling."
In August after her preliminary hearing, Ohu wrote a brief letter to family in which she said it’s often “unbearable when left to my thoughts” but she was trying to hang on to happy memories.
“I’ve been treated inhumanely, but Father’s guidance has taught me to be strong," she wrote. “Support from all around the world has elevated me to accept my trials are not only for my justice, but justice for all."