Trial begins for soldier accused of raping woman in Camp Humphreys barracks
July 27, 2006
CAMP HUMPHREYS, South Korea — Lawyers at Camp Humphreys made opening arguments Tuesday in the jury trial of a soldier charged with raping and sodomizing a woman in his barracks room last August.
Pvt. Darren W. Williams, a cook with the Army’s 249th Military Police Detachment, pleaded not guilty to rape, forcible sodomy and disobeying orders of a superior commissioned officer, prosecutors said. But he pleaded guilty to wrongfully leaving the post after his off-post pass privileges were revoked when he was a suspect in the case.
Prosecutor Capt. Yong J. Lee portrayed Williams as a “predator” who took advantage of a mentally handicapped woman in her early 20s.
The defense countered that the woman had consensual sex with the soldier, then “cried rape” to deflect her parents’ wrath.
The general court-martial opened Monday before Army Col. Gregory Gross, a military judge. On Tuesday, a five-member jury was impaneled and heard opening arguments from the prosecution and the defense.
Prosecutors said Williams and the woman had been acquainted for several weeks prior to the incident.
Their first in-person meeting was at Yongsan Garrison in Seoul, when, according to testimony, the woman’s mother and brother saw them and confronted Williams.
The mother testified Tuesday that at that meeting, she told Williams her daughter was autistic — a characterization the defense challenged — and got him to promise to avoid her.
But Williams and the woman kept in contact and on Aug. 27, they met at Camp Humphreys, prosecutors said. He took her to his barracks room, they said, saying they’d watch a movie — but once in the room, put her on the floor and attacked her.
According to testimony, military police were notified after the woman was seen in a distraught state; she told investigators Williams had attacked her.
But the defense painted a sharply different picture of events.
Defense lawyer Capt. Jack Ko told the jury the case was one of a woman “who made a decision to have sex with someone her parents disapproved of” — but “cried rape” when she realized MPs would tell her parents of her visit to Williams’ barracks.
Ko told the jury the woman became acquainted with Williams when she reached him while attempting to phone her boyfriend.
Ko said that during further phone contact, the woman told Williams of her sexual preferences and pressed him to let her visit him at Camp Humphreys.
Showing the jury the woman’s garments, Ko said that on Aug. 27, she “prettied herself up,” donned thong panties, a pink-and-white flowered tank top and pink skirt and traveled by bus to see Williams.
Once in his room, Ko told jurors, she kissed him, said she wanted to perform a sex act and had consensual intercourse.
Williams’ off-post pass privileges were revoked Sept. 12 after his unit learned he was a suspect in the case, according to testimony.
He’s been in pre-trial confinement at the Camp Humphreys jail since March 8.
Opening arguments were followed by testimony from a series of prosecution witnesses, including Spc. Jeri Bridgeford, 529th Military Police Detachment, who said she saw the woman shortly after the incident and immediately noticed red, welt-like injuries on the woman’s neck.
Proceedings were to resume Wednesday morning.