The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

February 9, 2014

Documents reveal chaotic military sex-abuse record


Catherine Fisher, an Australian and longtime Japan resident, accused the Japanese and U.S. governments of "harboring the suspect" after she was raped, allegedly by an American sailor, in 2002.

Japanese prosecutors refused to pursue criminal charges for undisclosed reasons, but in 2004 the Tokyo District Court ruled in a civil case that Fisher had indeed been sexually assaulted, and awarded her 3 million yen ($30,000) in damages.

By then the accused, Bloke T. Deans, had left the country. Fisher and her attorneys said the Navy was aware of the Japanese court case against Deans, but gave him an honorable discharge and allowed him to leave the country without informing the court or her.

U.S. military officials refused to disclose his whereabouts, citing privacy reasons, she said. A spokesman for U.S. Forces Japan declined comment on Fisher's case and said the command does not track the whereabouts of former service members.

Fisher tracked Deans down in Milwaukee, and sued in Wisconsin Circuit Court in 2012 to claim the damages awarded in Japan. Last year, she won, but settled for $1 — to make a point.

Deans denied he assaulted Fisher but acknowledged in the U.S. settlement "the evidence may prove otherwise," according to documents provided by his attorney, Alex Flynn. "Mr. Deans has paid that dollar and the matter is now concluded," Flynn said.

Not for Fisher, who became an advocate for rape victims in Japan. "Governments get out there and say, 'We are against rape, and we are doing everything we can,' but in fact they are not," she said. "And by not allowing rape victims to receive justice, it's just going on in the same pattern."

After a long and contentious debate, Congress late last year passed numerous changes to the military's legal system in an effort to combat the epidemic of sexual assaults.

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