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CAMP ZAMA, Japan — In details frequently graphic, a general court-martial for a soldier with the 35th Supply and Services Battalion opened Wednesday with a Japanese woman from Yokohama testifying about a 2004 sexual assault she said took place in a Camp Zama barracks room.

Sgt. Gerren Mims, on trial inside U.S. Army Japan’s Willie N. Sugihara Courtroom, has pleaded not guilty to charges of rape, forcible sodomy and house-breaking.

The prosecution, led by Army Capt. Anthony Valenti, earlier dropped a count of violating a general order.

Mims, who is not being held in pretrial confinement, is accused of entering the dorm room of friend and fellow soldier Nathaniel Montgomery the morning of Sept. 7, 2004, and attacking the Japanese woman. The woman testified she’d spent the night with Montgomery after meeting the pair about two days earlier in a Roppongi nightclub.

The prosecutor’s opening statement argued that Mims woke the woman, then performed oral sex and fondled her before mounting her, using a thick blanket to conceal his identity.

“She kept saying ‘no’ in English,” Valenti said. “She’s trying to hold this person back. She is not consenting.

“After she rolled the covers back and saw who it was, only then did he stop. She told him to get out, and that’s when he left.”

The woman testified that she then tried to alert Montgomery, who’d left for work, via a text message but Mims returned as she was typing. “He was smiling and drinking juice,” she said through a translator. “I told him to get out. He told me he wanted to apologize. I didn’t want to hear it.”

Philip Cave, Mims’ civilian defense attorney, countered that the woman invited Mims to the bed and the two engaged in “consensual activity.”

“Then she says, ‘We shouldn’t,’” Cave argued. “She changes her mind, so he leaves. … Sgt. Mims had an honest and reasonable belief he could go into the room. The evidence will show there was no rape or forcible sodomy.”

The woman testified Wednesday that she repeatedly tried to refute the advances but her attacker used his hands to keep her legs forced open. Occasionally fighting tears, she testified that “I could not pull the blanket down because that person was holding the blanket. I tried to resist. Since I was not able to see the person’s face, I was frightened.”

The woman didn’t contact Zama’s military police until after 8 p.m., she testified, in part because she was waiting for Montgomery to get off work.

Cave countered that the woman became angry in the barracks room when Montgomery may have received a phone call from another woman. “Wasn’t it at that point in time when you said, ‘I’m gonna get you two’ and ‘gonna fix you,’”? he asked.

“I didn’t say that,” she replied.

Cave said the woman later gave four different statements to Japanese police, but said she’d been raped only when an Army Criminal Investigation Command agent led her through steps needed to prove a rape had taken place by military standards.

The woman testified she gave the same account to both Japanese police and special agent Leo Garramone of the CID, who took the stand Wednesday evening.

Garramone said he interviewed the woman about 11 hours after the time she said she was assaulted. “She was emotionally distraught,” he testified. “She was very sad, had her head down and just looked very upset. She seemed withdrawn. At certain moments, she’d cry.”

Late Wednesday, Valenti tried to enter a deposition made by Montgomery, who since has left the military. Valenti said the former soldier’s whereabouts are unknown but Cave objected, saying the defense believes Montgomery still is in the Tokyo area.

The court-martial was expected to end late Thursday or Friday afternoon. Mims opted for a trial by jury. The seven-member panel consists entirely of male officers. Army Col. Patrick Parrish of the South Korea Circuit is the judge.


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