December 27, 1995
Web posted at: 9:45 a.m. EST (1445 GMT)
From Tokyo Bureau Chief John Lewis
NAHA, Okinawa (CNN) -- A U.S. Navy seaman accused of raping a 12-year-old Japanese girl testified Wednesday that his two Marine companions were willing accomplices. Seaman Marcus Gill told the judges in Naha District Court that the three planned the girl's abduction together.
Gill, who had admitted raping the girl, described the incident in graphic detail to the court -- so graphic that the court interpreter broke down in tears.
The 23-year-old Navy medic, who is married and the father of two, also told the judicial panel that he was unaware of the young girl's age because it was dark when they abducted her.
Gill's testimony Wednesday was consistent with what he said in the closing moments of Tuesday's session: that the other two defendants, Marine Corps privates Rodrico Harp and Kendrick Ledet, also sexually assaulted the young girl.
"We discussed how we would go about abducting a woman," he said, adding that Ledet said "Let's do this!" as they started off in the car.
Gill said it was Harp who saw the girl going into a stationery store, and that Ledet suggested ambushing her when she came out. Gill also said the two others bound the girl with tape and pulled her shorts and underwear down to her ankles.
Harp and Ledet have denied raping the girl, saying they took part only in the abduction out of fear of Gill.
The defense in-fighting elicited an observation from the U.S. attorney representing the Harp and Ledet families. "This is the most interesting situation, to have everybody pointing fingers in the same courtroom," said attorney Michael Griffith. "The judges will just have to figure this one out."
Before testimony began Wednesday, Griffith filed a motion for a change of venue. That was rejected by the court on a technicality.
The mothers of Harp and Ledet believe Gill is lying. "The way I feel about it...he (is) not really telling the truth," said Harp's mother, Daisy May Harp. "He (is) not telling it like it is."
Barbara Cannon, Ledet's mother, agreed. "I don't feel that he's telling the truth, either. I really don't," she said. (213K AIFF sound or 213K WAV sound)
The three-judge panel will decide what the truth is, with the trial expected to wrap up Thursday in Okinawa. A verdict is expected by mid-January.
Legal experts in Japan predict guilty verdicts for all three servicemen. Sources say the prosecution will seek three years to life. Others say the defense team believes two to three years behind bars is more realistic.
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