Prosecutor seeks prison term for Brown
By DAVID ALLEN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: April 24, 2004
NAHA, Okinawa — Calling the crime “vicious and atrocious,” the lead prosecutor in the attempted rape trial of Marine Maj. Michael Brown on Thursday asked that he be found guilty and sentenced to three years of hard labor.
Takeshi Oda, assigned to the case earlier this month, quickly positioned himself as a tough prosecutor during a daylong summation of the government’s case in Naha District Court.
The defense gets to make its case May 18.
Brown, a 20-year Marine veteran, is accused of attempting to rape a Filipina barmaid who’d agreed to give him a ride to his off-base home after the Camp Courtney Officers Club closed on Nov. 2, 2002. He’s also accused of destroying her cell phone so she couldn’t call police.
Brown, 41, assigned to the command element of the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force, was indicted Dec. 19, 2002, and spent five months in a Japanese detention center before he was released on bail. The trial has continued for more than a year, even after the barmaid, Victoria Nakamine, 41, retracted the charges against Brown in May. She claimed police, prosecutors and her former employer coerced her into charging him with rape.
Brown admitted last month he initially lied to police when questioned about the incident, stating publicly for the first time that he and Nakamine had engaged in heavy petting in her car before she objected when he tried to take it “too far.”
When she threatened to call police after he insulted her, Brown said, he threw her phone into a river near where they had parked on a deserted lover’s lane in Gushikawa.
At the start of Thursday’s hearing, defense attorney Toshimitsu Takaesu offered evidence that Brown had written a recent letter to Nakamine apologizing for the use of bad language and destroying her phone. He also sent her 8,000 yen to replace the phone.
Oda said the act did not impress him.
“He only changed his story from one lie to another,” Oda said. “His statements are full of lies and false representations.”
Oda said Brown took advantage of Nakamine’s favor, violently attacking her twice “to satisfy his base sexual desires.”
“There is no room for sympathetic consideration in this case,” he said. “The victim suffered fear, humiliation, physical pain and gross sexual insult. This was a violent, cowardly attack by a U.S. military officer on a weaker woman.
“The accused is … professionally trained for combat,” Oda said. “Taking advantage of his physical superiority, he attempted to bring a woman who has little means to resist into submission by force.
“The nature of the crime is very cunning, persistent and cowardly,” he said. “And, to evade his criminal responsibility, he keeps giving runaround excuses, which is very unbecoming and deserves severe criticism.”
He stressed that the Gushikawa community also suffered.
“There’s a feeling of anxiety among the residents because of this incident,” Oda said. “This has had a great impact on the community.”
He said Brown showed an anti-social attitude and “gave no reasonable explanation or remorse.”
“This serious crime also drew the attention of the media. It was reported not only on Okinawa but throughout the rest of the country. The accused is a major of the U.S. military, who was supposed to be a role model to the rest of the servicemembers. Despite his high-ranking position, he thoughtlessly committed the crime.”
Oda also attacked the defense team for “engaging in behavior and remarks, as if they were ridiculing the Japanese criminal trial system, like they were trying to make a fool of the Japanese justice system.”
Following the hearing, defense attorney Takashi Takano said he was not impressed by the prosecution’s case.
“We will maintain our argument of his innocence and demand the court to dismiss the case,” he said.
— Chiyomi Sumida contributed to this report.