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CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — It’s nail-biting time for Marine Maj. Michael Brown.

Almost 19 months after he was indicted on charges of attempting to rape a Filipina barmaid and destroying her cell phone, Brown’s fate will be decided Thursday by a three-judge panel in Naha District Court.

The prosecution seeks a sentence of three years in prison at hard labor. Brown’s defense attorneys claim the trial was a sham. They contend the charges should have been dismissed more than a year ago when Brown’s accuser, Victoria Nakamine, 41, testified that no attempted rape occurred and she did not want to see him punished.

She said police and prosecutors coerced her into filing charges against Brown.

Brown, a 20-year Marine veteran assigned to the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force, was indicted Dec. 19, 2002, on charges of attempting to rape Nakamine in the early morning hours of Nov. 2. She had given him a ride to his Gushikawa home after he spent the night of Nov. 1 drinking and singing karaoke at the Camp Courtney Officers Club.

Nakamine worked at the club. She testified that after they left the base she parked her car on a dark road along the Tengen River to talk. That led to some kissing and fondling, but when Brown attempted to go too far, she asked him to stop. He did — twice — and apologized. However, she said, when she jokingly threatened to call police, Brown snatched her cell phone and threw it into the river.

Nakamine later said trying to get compensation for her ruined phone led to the serious charges against Brown: When she reported the incident to base security guards, she exaggerated what had happened to get them to take her seriously.

However, the guards said it was an Okinawa police matter, so Nakamine made her report to them.

Brown was released on bail in May 2003 and restricted to Camp Courtney. The Marines have declined to state whether he might face disciplinary action after the Japanese court rules.

At first, Brown, who pleaded not guilty to both charges, denied any sexual foreplay. He later admitted that he and Nakamine had engaged in some form of consensual petting and he threw the cell phone out of the car.

Nakamine testified that, although she had lived in Japan for more than 18 years and was married to a Japanese man, she could not read Japanese. She said police and prosecutors coerced her into signing a written statement that she did not understand. She also testified she was confused about whether she could withdraw the charges after Brown was indicted.

The prosecution, on the other hand, said Nakamine changed her story just a day after $13,500 mysteriously appeared in her bank account. The money’s source never was made clear, and Brown’s defense lawyers denied it came from him or his family.

During the defense’s closing arguments in May, Brown, 41, said the prosecution case was riddled with inconsistencies and that police virtually admitted pressing the case against Nakamine’s intention.

A policewoman who interviewed Nakamine testified that the morning of the incident, her supervisors told her to return to Nakamine to get another statement because the first was too weak to support a charge of attempted rape.

“That is the closest we will see to an admission that the police manufactured this case,” Brown said.

Defense attorneys Toshimitsu Takaesu and Takashi Takano argued that Nakamine’s inability to understand Japanese sufficiently and the lack of translator when she was questioned should have rendered her early statements inadmissible. They said the court should weigh heavily Nakamine’s request not to punish Brown.

Prosecutor Takeshi Oda, who took over the case in April, called the crime “vicious and atrocious” and pointed out that Brown lied to police when originally questioned about the incident. He said the community adjacent to Camp Courtney suffered as well as the victim. “There’s a great feeling of anxiety among the residents because of this incident,” he said.

However, no evidence was submitted during the trial to back up his claim that the case had “a great impact on the community.”

Oda also attacked the defense team, accusing them of “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.”

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