Okinawan prosecution urges 5 years for Marine
August 15, 2003
NAHA, Okinawa — The prosecution Wednesday asked for a five-year prison sentence “at hard labor” for a Marine who admitted raping a 19-year-old Okinawan woman.
Prosecutor Tsuyoshi Satake said the May 25 attack in an alley in Kin, near Camp Hansen, was a “heinous and vicious crime” that could not be forgiven just because the defendant, Lance Cpl. Jose W. Torres, claimed he was so drunk he could not think straight when he dragged the woman by her hair into the darkness, punched her in the face and raped her.
Satake argued that Torres, 21, assigned to Headquarters and Service Company, 3 Marine Expeditionary Force, at Camp Hansen, needed the prison time to rehabilitate himself.
Sentencing is set for Sept. 12.
“His motive was self-centered, and there is no room for sympathetic consideration,” Satake said, adding that Torres broke the victim’s nose and forcibly raped her in order to “fulfill his lust.”
“The defendant is a serviceman who receives professional combat training. Therefore, the crime was committed by using his body as a deadly weapon … taking advantage of his physical superiority.”
The victim would like to see Torres spend the rest of his life in prison, Satake said, noting the crime had affected the entire Okinawan community.
“This is a case that a U.S. serviceman raped a minor,” he said. “The incident caused great anxiety to the local community.”
Torres, who pleaded guilty at a hearing July 24, took the stand for about two hours Wednesday.
When he was led into the courtroom, Torres, wearing the same black shirt and brown corduroy pants he wore at his last hearing, was handcuffed to a rope tied around his waist. The rope was a tether held by one of two uniformed guards. He also wore a pair of prison-issued brown plastic sandals.
The restraints were not removed until the judges entered the courtroom.
Torres’ appearance was a sign that Okinawan authorities have rejected a Marine Corps request to place detained servicemembers in regular shoes and remove the restraints prior to entering the courtroom. The request was made Aug. 1 to the Naha Detention Center and the Naha District Court’s chief prosecutor.
Under a 1953 agreement between the United States and Japan, “every effort is to be made to prevent public display of restraint.”
Torres, his head bent throughout most of his testimony, admitted that he raped the woman, but he could not force himself to use the word.
“Why in your statement do you never use the word ‘rape?’” Satake asked.
“Due to my own past, I have been unable to say that word out loud,” Torres said. “It’s a word I refuse to use because it’s evil.”
Torres claimed he had been raped and sodomized as a child.
“I know exactly what she’s going through because I went through it for five years,” he said. “I know her helpless feelings. I know her humiliation. I know her shame.
“There’s not a day goes by that I would not give up my life to make it so there’s nothing left to be remembered.”
Torres said he met the woman at a bar near Camp Hansen on the night of May 24. At about 3 a.m., after drinking and dancing, they left the bar and walked down the street.
But when he kissed her, she complained. He then forced her into the alley.
“Due to the amount of alcohol I had consumed that night, I was not understanding things like I normally would have,” he said.
Torres said he’d been out celebrating the news that he was returning to the United States soon and would rejoin his wife and see his 6-month-old daughter for the first time.
“I drank two pitchers of beer, a six pack and two shots of tequila,” he said.
He asked the court for leniency, stating he had found religion in jail and already faces being dishonorably discharged from the Marines and divorced from his wife.
“I’ve already lost a lot — as a Marine, a husband and a father,” he said. “I ask forgiveness from the victim, from the nation of Japan and from the Marine Corps as well. I am humbled before the court today, asking to be allowed to try to salvage my marriage.”
Defense attorney Miyatomi Harushima also asked the court for mercy as it considers a sentence.
“This happened mainly from a misunderstanding and miscommunication,” he said. “He thought that he had impressed the woman when he danced at the club.”
Harushima said the woman willingly left the club with Torres.
“Both the defendant and the victim interpreted each other’s actions the way they wanted to,” he added. “Had he not drunk that much of alcohol that night, he would have controlled himself.”