Marine in Court Admits to Sexual Assault on Okinawa; Judge Delays Case

A gavel cracks down in the 56th Fighter Wing Staff Judge Advocate courtroom, Oct. 11, 2018 at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. (U.S. Air Force photo/Aspen Reid)
A gavel cracks down in the 56th Fighter Wing Staff Judge Advocate courtroom, Oct. 11, 2018, at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. (Aspen Reid/U.S. Air Force)

NAHA, Okinawa -- A Marine accused of sexually assaulting a woman in a Naha parking lot and then shoving a police officer pleaded guilty Wednesday during his first appearance in Naha District Court.

Pfc. Marvin Earl James Jr., 24, a transmission systems operator with 3rd Marine Division at Camp Courtney, is charged with forcible indecency and interfering with the public duties of police.

Prosecutors alleged James forced himself on the woman early on Jan. 31 and later shoved a police officer attempting to question him.

James admitted the charges, said he was drunk at the time and believed he had the woman's consent. But, he said in court, he may have been mistaken.

James' attorney is scheduled to meet with prosecutors on May 12 to determine whether the woman should testify.

"I don't want to blame it on drinking," James said as he stood before a three-judge panel Wednesday. "The self-control, I didn't have at the moment."

James said he never felt he was "forcing anything" with the woman.

"I never got a rejection," he said. "She probably didn't make me aware I was forcing it because she was scared."

Unshaven and looking dazed, James was led into court at 1:30 p.m. in a black T-shirt and blue jeans, his hands cuffed in front of him, flanked on either side by police guards.

According to a statement read by a prosecutor, James approached a woman on a Naha street at 5:05 a.m., took her into a nearby parking lot, kissed her, pulled down her shorts, and after laying her on the hood of a car, penetrated her with his finger.

James fled when the woman threatened to call police, Naha police told Stars and Stripes after James' arrest. In court Wednesday, James said he didn't pick the woman up or put her on the car, and she didn't lay back, she sat.

He admitted to shoving the officer.

"Everything is true," he said. "I'm admitting to the facts, but it didn't happen exactly as stated."

After a 30-minute break to confer with his lawyer, James backtracked on the consent question. He said he knew at the time it was a "possibility" he did not have her permission.

Presiding Judge Koji Oohashi said James' wavering on the consent question requires further examination and prosecutors may have to call the victim to testify. He instructed James to meet with his attorneys and discuss whether he wants to challenge portions of the prosecution's statement of fact.

James told Oohashi that the woman's recollection was probably correct, and his memory had likely failed him.

"I want to show I'm sorry," he said. "I'm willing to admit to everything."

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