NAHA, Okinawa — Marine Maj. Michael Brown’s attempted rape trial will resume Jan. 15 in Naha District Court.

The trial recessed in October after Brown requested the three judges hearing the case disqualify themselves for being prejudiced against him.

The case stems from a Nov. 2, 2002, incident in which Brown accepted an early morning ride to his off-base home from a Filipina barmaid after the Camp Courtney Officer’s Club closed.

The woman, Victoria Nakamine, 40, reported that Brown attempted to rape her when they stopped on a deserted road to chat. Nakamine recanted the charge during May testimony, saying she was coerced by police and prosecutors to file the charges against Brown.

The major is assigned to the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force’s command element at Camp Courtney.

He’s also charged with destroying the woman’s cellular phone by throwing it into the Tengan River when she threatened to call police.

Brown asked the judges to remove themselves after they decided to accept both the woman’s trial testimony and her pre-trial statements as case evidence.

An independent panel of judges ruled the case was being handled fairly.

An appeals court dismissed Brown’s appeal and a subsequent appeal to Japan’s Supreme Court was dismissed in November.

Brown’s chief Japanese attorney, Toshimitsu Takaesu, said the trial will resume Jan. 15 and Brown will take the stand the next day.

Because of the trial’s slow pace — four-hour sessions twice monthly — it is expected to last through March, which may give Brown’s defense team what they wanted — a change of judges.

In Japan, court officials are often changed at the end of the fiscal year, which ends in March. The court makeup can be changed in the middle of a trial.

For example, a new prosecutor and chief judge were assigned to the case last March.

Brown, a 19-year Marine veteran, was indicted Dec. 19, 2002, and spent 149 days in solitary confinement before being granted bail.

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