Marine rape case goes to the jury
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — After two hours deliberating the fate of a Marine charged with rape, sodomy and sexual assault, a seven-member panel adjourned for the night without reaching a verdict Thursday.
They were to resume deliberations early Friday in the court-martial.
Lance Cpl. Curtis Gilbey, 21, assigned to Camp Schwab, is also charged with making false official statements under oath, the only charge he admitted to on the stand Thursday. He said he lied to investigators May 18, when he allegedly crawled into an airman’s bed in a barracks room on Kadena Air Base and attempted to have sex with her.
At that time he said he had merely fondled the airman, who was his girlfriend’s best friend. She had allowed him to sleep on the floor of her room after he knocked on her door and said he was too drunk to make it back to Camp Schwab after a night of heavy drinking at Okinawa City’s Gate Two Street, adjacent to the air base.
“I lied,” Gilbey testified. “I was scared and knew that because of the stupid thing I had done it was going to ruin my life.”
He told investigators in a May 18 statement that he had awakened in a haze and had thought the woman was his girlfriend.
But after he was confronted with evidence Nov. 6, he changed his story. He was told traces of the woman’s DNA were found on Gilbey’s boxer shorts and a swab taken from his genitals.
To account for that, Gilbey signed a statement that said he thought the woman was awake and “was into” what he was doing. He said he must have transferred the DNA from his fingers when he went to the restroom while being questioned by police.
On Nov. 11, after another interview with Air Force investigators, he changed his story again, claiming he thought the woman was awake and enjoying his attention and he attempted to have sex with her.
On Wednesday the airman testified that she had not given Gilbey permission to climb into bed with her or to engage in sex.
Gilbey faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole and a dishonorable discharge.
During closing arguments, Capt. Matthew Kent, the prosecutor, said Gilbey’s testimony — that the woman gave silent consent by responding to his stroking without complaint — should hold little weight, since he had already admitted to lying to investigators. “You have to consider how many times he lied,” Kent said. Then he asked the panel to consider Gilbey’s Nov. 11 statement, in which he stated: “I could not say that she was awake while I was doing this. But she didn’t say no.”
“If you’re really innocent and you thought that there was consent, then you don’t have to lie,” Kent said.
Gilbey’s defense counsel, Capt. Jennifer Spooner, asked them to find Gilbey innocent of the charges.
“What he did do is, admittedly, incredibly poor judgment. But he did not rape or sodomize or assault her,” she said.
“This is a young, inexperienced Marine, and he thought it was OK because of her reaction, because of her body movements,” she said. “He thought everything was good to go at that point. He thought she was consenting.”
Spooner asked the panel to excuse Gilbey’s false statements.
“He feared for his life, and that’s why he lied,” she said. “Convicting him would be like throwing out the baby with the bath water. Consider the reason he did what he did and find him not guilty.”