Veterans’ Tales by Vassar Bushmills
Since “She said-He said” is all the political rage right now, I have a couple of cases that are almost on point, both of which point out the reason why our judicial system of evidence is so important.
At one time I had planned on turning both of these tales into short stories and maybe even a script, but the thought left me years ago.
The first was a case where a WAC accused an Army sergeant of rape, told here, and the second, where an older Japanese national, who worked in the post laundry, accused an Army Spec4 (Honor Guard) of raping her. I could not represent him in Japanese court, and he was convicted, probably solely on the basis that he was a foreigner, a “gaijin”, as no foreigner had ever been acquitted in a Japanese criminal court.
Each of these stories would take several thousand words to tell, to give full detail of the evidence and behind-the-scenes political play, and how we’ve just seen elements of both trials play out on national television and the media.
I’ll only outline them here, but they are both very teachable, and both caused a great deal of injury.
About criminal rape cases in general, you don’t see a lot of news about them as most never go to trial. This is because the evidence to actually convict is usually so conclusive that the defendant will almost never take his chance with a jury. By evidence I mean the medical and photographic evidence; bruises, wounds, semen results. The accused’s testimony serves to set the accusation, but it is the evidence that convicts.
Only in the rarest of cases is there an actual fact-issue of guilt that makes it to trial.
We hear a lot about “He-said, She-said” today, but it has always been around. But standing-alone it almost never resulted in a criminal charge, let alone a conviction. That’s why we only hear about them in the media, or in front of a college complaint boards, where one party, usually the accused, aren’t really able to defend themselves. I always think about the trial of Joan of Arc or the old Court of Inquisition from the middle Ages when I hear of these.
I’ll start with the American rape case, 1974.
An SFC Robert came into see me on a Monday morning. He was with the base MP Detachment. He said at about 4 AM MP’s came to his BOQ room, hold him he’s been accused of rape, read him his rights and took him down to the station to be booked, then to the hospital to be inspected.
In my five years in the Army, he was the “strackest” (is that term is still used today) soldier I’d ever seen. Over 6′, handsome black man, unsmiling, stood at attention until I asked him to sit down, which he did by occupying about only half of the seat, back rigid, both feet on the floor, garrison cap neatly folded in his hand[…]