Okinawa Marine denied bail in alleged attack
By DAVID ALLEN AND CHIYOMI SUMIDA | STARS AND STRIPES Published: December 27, 2002
NAHA, Okinawa — Marine Maj. Michael Brown spent Christmas in the Naha Detention Center.
Brown appeared before a Naha District Court judge on Tuesday to hear why he had been detained immediately after his indictment Dec. 19 for allegedly attempting to rape a woman in Gushikawa last month.
Immediately afterward, his Japanese attorney filed a motion to release him on bail. The judge denied bail Wednesday.
Brown, 39, charged with sexually assaulting a woman Nov. 2 near Camp Courtney, requested Tuesday’s hearing after being denied bail when he surrendered to Japanese authorities.
Dressed in plastic prison-issue slippers, a gray-and-beige checked shirt and black jeans, he stood at rigid attention as Judge Yayoi Ikeda told him that there was concern that he might try to destroy evidence or intimidate witnesses if he was set free.
Ikeda also said she was concerned about the seriousness of the charge and the wide discrepancy between statements made by Brown and the alleged victim.
Brown told the judge he did not fully understand why he was considered a risk, since his passport has been confiscated and his wife and two small children live on Okinawa.
“I have no intention to contact the victim or witnesses to try to influence them,” he said.
His defense attorney, Masayuki Akamine, said Marine officials have assured that Brown would be closely supervised — perhaps even confined at Camp Hansen’s Joint Forces Brig — if released.
No date for trial has been set, but it is expected to begin in January and could last several months. It is customary in a Japanese court to schedule a case for half-day sessions once or twice a month.
Meanwhile, back in the States, Brown’s family has launched a Web site in his support, asking Americans to boycott Japanese goods to protest what they call a “travesty of justice.”
“I’ve had to get a whirlwind Internet education on the Japanese judicial process and frankly, it’s not pretty,” Mathew Brown, a brother, posted on the family Web site at: www.majorbrown.com.
“The accused has no rights,” Mathew Brown said. “They expected him to just fall over, agree to anything, and beg for mercy.”
Maj. Michael Brown is a 19-year Marine veteran assigned to the command element of Camp Courtney’s III Expeditionary Force. He and his family are on their second tour on Okinawa.
Early on Nov. 2, Brown, who was walking home from the base officers club at 1:30 a.m., got a ride with one of the club’s employees, a foreign resident of Japan who has lived on Okinawa for more than 20 years.
According to the woman, Brown directed her to a deserted road near the base and attempted to rape her, destroying her cellular phone when she attempted to call police. Brown also is charged with destruction of private property.
Brown told police the woman propositioned him for sex and became angry when he refused and snatched his wallet. During a struggle for the wallet, he grabbed her cell phone and threw it into a nearby stream, he told police.
When Brown was indicted, a Japanese prosecutor said he had given the major and the woman 10 days to enter into a jidan agreement, but there was no indication Brown was interested.
Jidan is the Japanese custom of apologizing to an injured party regardless of whether guilt is admitted. It is common in sexual assault cases for the woman to drop charges, saving herself the anguish of reliving the crime at trial, if she is convinced the suspect’s apology, accompanied by monetary compensation, is sincere.
“The family is now trying to negotiate jidan,” said C. James Munno, a spokesman for the family during a telephone interview from Maryland. “Other than that, the family has no comment. We prefer to let the Web site speak for itself.”
But Brown has yet to be convinced to come to terms with his accuser.
Akamine said the major still intends to plead not guilty and “has no intention to enter into jidan.”