Tech sergeant found guilty of raping daughter
Stars and Stripes June 9, 2003
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — After more than six hours of deliberation Saturday, a military jury found an Air Force technical sergeant guilty of raping his daughter and possessing child pornography.
The rape conviction carries a maximum sentence of life in prison. Since jurors deliberated into the early evening Saturday, sentencing in the general court-martial was set for Monday morning.
The verdict indicates the jury believed beyond a reasonable doubt that the technical sergeant raped his then-14-year-old daughter while assigned to Robins Air Force Base, Ga., in 1996. But jurors reduced a second count of rape on diverse occasions to carnal knowledge, convicting him of having sexual intercourse with his daughter more than once before she turned 16.
On the indecent-assault charge, stemming from an alleged incident at Yokota Air Base in November 1999 in which the daughter testified her father sexually touched her, the jury also returned a guilty verdict — but on the lesser charge of indecent acts. Indecent assault requires the use of bodily harm or unlawful force or violence, while indecent acts are just that — “indecent” — the military judge, Col. David Brash, explained before deliberations.
Stars and Stripes’ policy is not to name the alleged victim in sexual-assault cases — or the accused, if doing so would identify the alleged victim.
In closing arguments, Capt. Stacey Vetter, circuit defense counsel, suggested the alleged victim consented to sex with the man who raised her but was not her biological father. The woman was involved in numerous school activities, Vetter said, and “she could have picked up the phone and told someone, but she doesn’t.”
“Could it be because it was a consensual relationship and she doesn’t really understand how unacceptable that would be until later, when she’s trying to tell her husband what’s going on?”
The woman testified Friday that the first time her father raped her at 14, he “smashed” his hand across her face to keep her quiet. Vetter reminded jurors that the woman said she wore braces then but never testified that her mouth was sore after the alleged first rape.
Vetter also thought it peculiar that the woman, during her testimony Friday, could not remember the details of the four or five other times she alleged her father raped her.
“Rape … is a violent, significant event in someone’s life, yet we have no details at all,” she said, referring to the latter allegations.
Capt. Christopher Schumann, the government’s co-trial counsel, argued that the woman did not have “some deviant attraction” for her father. Rather, he said, the youth and vulnerability of a child coupled with the authority of a parent created a situation of dominance and control between father and daughter.
“The parental compulsion to submit to the rapes was too much for her to overcome, so she gave in,” he said. “That’s not consent, members — that’s force.”
Perhaps most damaging to the defendant was a tape-recorded conversation on Oct. 5, 2002, when the woman confronted her father about the alleged rapes and sexual molestation while wearing a wire from the Office of Special Investigations.
“I’ve done you wrong. I wish I could explain it. It wasn’t because you weren’t my little girl,” said Schumann, repeating some of the defendant’s recorded statements.
“He made those admissions to her because he did it,” Schumann said.
On the charge of child-pornography possession, the defense argued that other family members of their client had the opportunity to access and download the more than 4,000 child-porn images found on a computer hard drive and two compact disks in the man’s Yokota home.
OSI, Vetter said, never analyzed a third computer belonging to the woman’s two teenage brothers found in a closet. One of the brothers knew about the ongoing OSI investigation and could have downloaded images onto CDs before OSI seized materials from the house, she suggested.
But, Schumann argued: Teenage boys “are curious about naked women. They’re not curious about naked 10-year-olds.”