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Marine guilty of rape

Date Posted: 2006-12-08

An Okinawa-based Marine was convicted Monday of raping a 23-year-old Filipina woman more than a year ago, and sentenced to 40 years in prison.

Lance Corporal Daniel Smith appeared stunned as he heard the sentence passed down in a Manila courtroom from Judge Benjamin Pozon of Makati City Regional Trial Court. Three fellow U.S. Marines were acquitted in the case stemming from a November 1, 2005 evening outside a Subic Bay bar, when they met the local woman and took her to a waiting van.

The woman, known as ‘Nicole’ to the court, charged rape, while Smith called their sexual conduct “consensual”. The judge, in sentencing the Marine, said the heavy prison term sends a message society must “protect women against the unbridled bestiality of persons who cannot control their libidinous proclivity. Smith’s attorney, Benjamin Formoso, says an appeal as already been filed.

The U.S. Embassy, which had been holding the four Marines since they were taken off the USS Essex two days after the incident, turned Smith over to Philippine police following the verdict. He was handcuffed and taken away to be processed into a local jail, fingerprinted and photographed, and given a thorough medical examination. Philippine authorities refused to allow Smith to remain under American control during the appeal process.

The three acquitted Marines, Staff Sergeant Chad Carpentier and Lance Corporals Dominic Duplantis and Keith Silkwood, have been returned to III Marine Expeditionary Force in Okinawa. They are assigned to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit. III MEF will now decide whether military disciplinary charges will be filed.

Smith, in addition to the 40-year prison term, was directed to pay compensatory damages of $2,000 (100,000 pesos) to the accuser. His attorney says the trial defense team was surprised by the judge’s 60-page ruling, citing what it called “weak circumstantial evidence” against Smith.

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