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CAMP ZAMA, Japan — A soldier who worked on Sagami Depot was sentenced to three months in jail Thursday night at a general court-martial after being found guilty of indecent assault and forcible sodomy on a Japanese woman.

Sgt. Gerren Mims, 28, of Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 35th Supply and Service Battalion, also was handed a bad-conduct discharge, reduced in rank to private and told to forfeit $1,235 in monthly pay and allowances for three months. The prosecutor had sought a minimum five-year confinement term; his defense team asked for the bad-conduct discharge only.

The seven-member jury, which deliberated for more than three hours, cleared Mims of a more serious rape charge and found him not guilty of house-breaking. The panel, made up entirely of male officers, recommended that the forfeited pay go to his mother and daughter in the United States after the soldier said prior to sentencing that he was their lone source of income. He also must register as a sex offender upon returning there.

“I want to apologize for the pain I caused” the victim, Mims said in a statement. “I was wrong and I misunderstood her. I also apologize to the Army, chain of command, my family and all those I let down. … Not a day goes by that I don’t think about why I didn’t walk out of that room.”

According to testimony, early on the morning of Sept. 7, 2004, Mims entered the Camp Zama barracks room of another soldier and friend who had spent the night with the woman involved. He possessed a key under a mutual understanding that the two friends could access each other’s dorm rooms at any time.

The woman, who was sleeping there alone, testified that Mims sexually assaulted her, ignoring repeated pleas to stop while using a thick blanket to conceal his identity as he performed oral sex and fondled her before attempting intercourse. The defense argued any contact was consensual and Mims stopped as soon as she objected.

The soldier, who took the stand Wednesday, testified he was returning from a physical-training session that morning when he decided to stop by the other soldier’s room. He had signed the woman onto post the night before but wasn’t certain if she was still there.

“As soon as I walked in the door, I saw a naked woman lying in the bed,” Mims testified. “I went to the refrigerator to get something to drink but woke her up by the noise I made. She turned her head and looked at me but made no attempt to cover herself.

“By her looking at me and not covering herself up, I took that as an invitation she wanted me to come over to the bed.”

Believing she’d consented, he testified, the two started kissing.

“She never said ‘stop,’” Mims said. “As soon as I moved myself in between her, she said ‘stop.’ When she said that, I stopped. … I asked her why. No reason was given, so I threw on my shirt and pants and walked out.”

The prosecutor, Army Capt. Anthony Valenti, painted a different picture.

“He was hiding his face under the covers,” Valenti told the court. “If it’s consensual, why hide? He was up to something.

“She was held down, legs forced open and she continually said ‘no.’ No means no. Period. End of story. Mims stopped only when he could be identified. This was force and lack of consent.”

The defense, led by civilian attorney Philip Cave, cited discrepancies in accounts the woman gave to police and Army Criminal Investigation Command officials and also pointed to the absence of any forensic evidence that might indicate a struggle.

Army Col. Patrick Parrish of the South Korea Circuit served as military judge during the two-day trial inside U.S. Army Japan’s Willie N. Sugihara Courtroom.

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