One of the United States Marines accused of raping a Filipina last year in Subic
, Olongapo City
, yesterday said he does not believe the complainant’s claim that she was raped by Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith, even describing the victim as “a professional prying on the vulnerability” of the accused.
Staff Sgt. Chad Bryan Carpentier, a 28-year-old member of the US Marines Corps, who took the witness stand yesterday, said he does not see “Nicole,” as a victim, but rather as a woman who is “not a self-respecting.”
Carpentier took the witness stand during the continuation of the marathon trial involving principal accused Lance Cpls. Daniel Smith, and co-accused Keith Silkwood and Dominic Duplantis.
While on trial, Carpentier and his co-accused Marine buddies are on “confinement status” at a US Embassy, on custodial terms of the Philippine-US Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).
Hearings on the case are heard every afternoon, except Wednesday, in the sala of Judge Benjamin Pozon of Branch 139 of the Makati Regional Trial Court in Makati City.
Carpentier is the second of the four US servicemen to testify in the case.
Nicole earlier testified that Carpentier, Dominic Duplantis and Keith Silkwood reportedly cheered Smith on while raping her. They are considered accessories to the alleged crime.
Carpentier, most senior among the four soldiers, said his morals would not permit rape to happen under any circumstance, that “if a female is in harm’s way, you could bet his bottom dollar that he will interact and assist in a way.”
But he said he did nothing to help the girl as he was under impression that the complainant was not a self-respecting woman and that she was only forced to file the complaint after having been “ashamed and embarrassed of her conduct.”
“What she did in the back of the van, is not what you can call as in accordance with a self-respecting woman,” Carpentier said, adding he thinks the complainant was “compelled to go along with the wheel that was already turning.”
Pozon later asked Carpentier why he thought of the girl as a “professional,” despite his admission that he never actually met her before the incident and that he never observed what transpired between Smith and the victim at the back of the van as it was being driven the midnight of Nov. 1, 2005.
Carpentier said he got that impression when he saw the girl allegedly in a flirtatious act with Smith at the Neptune Club.
Nicole claimed Smith raped her while the accused claimed what happened was consensual sex.
During cross-examination, Prosecutor Elizabeth Berdal asked Carpentier why he failed to help the complainant despite the fact that he had a lot of time to help the girl fix her pants up or possibly bring the girl back to her place.
Berdal noted Carpentier had a lot of time to spare since his curfew was at 2 a.m., and not 12 midnight as his fellow accused.
She also pointed out some of the “inconsistencies” in Carpentier’s testimony compared to his earlier statements, particularly on his allegedly being drunk when he arrived at the Neptune Club and his fellow soldiers’ cheering while Smith was having sex with the victim.
Carpentier said there were discrepancies in the reports made by agents of the Naval Criminal Investigation Service (NCIS).
He pointed out that NCIS agents Bruce Warshawski and Gui Papageorge, during interrogation after the alleged rape took place, actually committed several “misinterpretations” and “misquotations” in the reports, with which the prosecution was also furnished.
“When I read it, I noticed some misinterpretation. I told the lawyers but neither of us were concerned, anyway (they said) I’d be called up to straighten that out by the time I testify in court,” Carpentier told the court.
Nicole’s camp, including her mother Susan and private counsel Evalyn Ursua, called a press conference to reiterate their call for the immediate replacement of the public prosecutors handling the case.
“We firmly believe that because of their manifest ill will and unethical behavior, the state prosecutors and (Justice) Secretary Gonzales have lost their moral authority to prosecute the perpetrators of the crime against Nicole,” June Lopez, the complainant’s psychiatrist, said.
Instead of addressing their clamor, Lopez said the state prosecutors remain blind to the concerns and issues raised by the complainant and her family.
“They have resorted to victim bashing, calling the complainant and her mother spoiled brats, ingrata, liar and worst of all, accusing her of imagining things, including her rape,” Lopez said.
“We are alarmed that the state prosecutors and their chief, Secretary Raul Gonzales, do not possess the ability to build the necessary rapport and trust with the complainant,” Lopez added.
Nicole reiterated that she will never surrender her case and will never agree to an out of court settlement as suggested by lead prosecutor Emilie Fe delos Santos.
The accuser’s family has been claiming they were coaxed last month by Delos Santos into settling with the Americans so as not to jeopardize the the VFA. Small-crowd rallies near the courtroom building call for the scrapping of the VFA because, as one of their streamers stated, “the rape of Nicole is a rape of the Philippines.”
Nicole and her mother left the courtroom in a huff last Thursday, complaining of the incompetence and negligence of the five-man prosecuting team of the DoJ assigned to her case.
Carpentier downgraded Nicole’s evaluation of Delos Santos’ team as “unfounded and ridiculous” and volunteered the claims are “based on frustration with the fact that our side of the story is finally being heard.”
When Smith testified a week ago, he struck those inside the courtroom, including Jesuit priest, Fr. James Reuter, as cool, collected and coherent.
This riled and demoralized Nicole, her mother, and her private counsel, with Nicole later on admitting to reporters that she felt she was losing her case.
According to Carpentier, “Smith’s testimony was honest and accurate, that is why it came across as “cool, collected, and coherent.”
“That is the difference between a witness that is speaking on the facts and (is) honest, vice someone trying to remember rehearsed testimony,” Carpentier added.
“It was naive and ridiculous for (Nicole) and her mother to think this case could have gone through the judicial process without our side being heard,” Carpentier pointed out.
Gonzales did not replace any member of the team, which was back in harness Monday this week after a recess Friday following caused by Nicole’s tantrums.
But as the Marines’ leader and spokesman, Carpentier said “it tears (him) apart to see and hear the way some people try to portray us.”
He said “Smith, Silkwood and Duplantis are just kids, they have their whole life ahead of them. It is devastating to see your name associated with such heinous accusations. We try to remember that the truth will come out and be heard, and our names will eventually be cleared.”
“When this case is over,” he said, “there will be no winner or loser, because five peoples’ (referring to themselves and Nicole) lives will be forever changed by the case.”
Ben Gines, Jr. with PNA