September 11, 2006
Marine: Sex was consensual

By Teresa Cerojano
Associated Press

MANILA, Philippines — A 21-year-old Marine charged with raping a Filipino woman testified Monday that the sex was consensual.

A 22-year-old woman has testified that Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith, of St. Louis, raped her Nov. 1 in a moving van at the Subic Bay free port, a former U.S. Naval base, while three other Marines cheered him on. If convicted, all four face a maximum of 40 years in jail.

The trial resumed Monday after a three-week break with Smith taking the stand and telling the Makati Regional Trial Court in Manila that he initiated kissing inside the van and the woman responded, even leaning against the window and pulling him toward her.

“I kinda jokingly said, are you trying to have sex right here? She said, ‘Yes,”’ Smith told the court, adding that the woman had her hands on his genitals.

“I started to get undressed. She was doing the same,” said Smith, wearing a dark gray suit. He said after both of them pulled down their pants, he got a condom from his back pocket and that she helped him put in on.

“After that, she leaned back and assisted me in entering her,” he testified.

After about three minutes, the van stopped and Smith said he looked at his watch and realized it was near curfew and told the woman — identified in court by her pseudonym “Nicole” — they had to stop.

“She said, are you done already?” Smith testified, adding he felt embarrassed by the question. He said he explained they had to return to their ship and left her at the port after failing to find a taxi for her.

The woman has told the court that she resisted but was drunk and too weak to stop the assault. She said she was too drunk to walk and had to be carried on Smith’s back to the van.

Smith said he met her in a bar, where they danced and kissed and she sat on his lap. When it was time to go, he asked her if she wanted a ride with him and three other Marines, and she agreed, Smith said.

Smith also denied that the other Marines cheered him on inside the van, saying there was only “drunken laughter.”

Judge Benjamin Pozon asked him why he thought the woman charged him with rape.

“I’ve been trying to figure that out,” Smith replied. “I can’t think of any reason.”

Smith’s lawyer called the testimony “honest, sincere and straightforward,” but the woman’s lawyer, Evalyn Ursua, said it was “crudely crafted.”

Prosecutors had already presented 23 witnesses, including a medical legal officer who examined the woman after the incident, as well as a forensic expert, who both said her injuries were consistent with rape.

The Marines had just finished counterterrorism maneuvers with Philippine troops when the incident occurred.

The case has sparked anti-American protests in the former U.S. colony and is seen as a black mark on exercises credited with helping weaken al-Qaida-linked militants in the country’s south.

About 20 women picketed the court, chanting slogans and carrying placards with the pictures of the four Marines stamped with the words “Rapists, liars!” and “Jail the 4 U.S. Marines.”