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Marine cleared of attempted rape, convicted on two lesser accounts

Date Posted: 2004-07-16

A three-judge panel found a US Marine innocent of attempted rape following an extended trial in Naha, then sentenced him to a year in prison on two other charges.

Major Michael Brown was found guilty of attempted forcible indecency and of destruction of private property in Naha District Court 20 months after the incident in November 2002. He went to trial accused of trying to rape a Filipino employee of the Camp Courtney Officers Club. The decision was handed down last week.

Both Brown and the alleged victim, Victoria Nakamine, denied the attempted rape occurred, but inaccurate statements made by both at varying points in the investigation kept the charge in place. Nakamine, at one point, asked the court to toss out her testimony Brown had tried to rape her.

Although the judges sentenced Brown to prison, they suspended the sentence for three years. Brown, a Marine serving at Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters at Camp Courtney, has not indicated whether his attorneys will appeal the sentence.

Toshimitsu Takaesu, Brown’s chief attorney, isn’t happy with the court’s ruling, noting that when the judges didn’t convict his client on the attempted rape charge, they shouldn’t have added a conviction on the forcible indecency charge. That charge had never been addressed during the lengthy trial. Takaesu calls the judges actions “unfair”.

He maintains that when the judges changed their thinking, he should have been informed. It would, he told reporters, have changed his courtroom strategy in defending Brown.

Brown was accused of accepting a ride from Nakamine from Camp Courtney, then on a dark roadway nearby, attempting to initiate sex acts with her. She refused, threatened to call police, and he took her cell phone and tossed it away. He ultimately admitted to investigators he’d had some consensual sexual contact with Nakamine. She also told the court he hadn’t tried to rape her.

Much of the trial was contentuous, with both sides bickering over the sequences of events, and who allegedly did what to whom. Prosecutors were adamant throughout that Brown was guilty, and hammered their points home over and over again.

Brown’s defense team was at odds with the court throughout much of the trial. They several times filed motions for dismissal of charges, changes of venue, changes of judges because of alleged bias and unfair treatment, and disagreements over what should be allowed into testimony.

Both defense and prosecution attorneys have two weeks to decide whether to accept the verdict as it stands, or to file appeals. The Marine Corps has not indicated whether it will take any disciplinary action against Brown once the civilian proceedings are complete.

Brown has indicated he wants to retire once the court decisions are complete.

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