By Ashley Rowland, Stars and Stripes
Pacific edition, Friday, January 25, 2008
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — A 15-year-old girl testified Wednesday in a court-martial that her father, a U.S. Army officer, beat her repeatedly and molested her twice last year after she told him that she lost her virginity to a fellow high school student.
But civilian defense attorney Michael Waddington said there were inconsistencies in her statements to investigators and a doctor, and she was on an overnight church trip to an amusement park on the night she told investigators that one of the beatings occurred.
Waddington said the girl — then 14 — was angry at her parents for forbidding her from seeing an older boyfriend.
“These are probably the most serious charges you could level against an Army officer and a father,” Waddington said of the court-martial.
The officer is charged with four counts of assault on a child under 16, and two counts of indecent acts with a child.
The teenager and her family are not being named to protect her identity, in accordance with Stars and Stripes policy. The officer did not testify.
During emotional testimony Wednesday that left both father and daughter crying, the teenager said she had unplanned sex with her boyfriend last summer.
According to court testimony, she admitted having sex when her father questioned her. Her parents then called the military police and asked that she be given a rape examination, her mother testified.
The teen said her father first beat her that night. But she told a doctor who examined her a few days later that her father first beat the night before, according to the doctor’s testimony.
She also testified that her father beat her at home on the same day that she and her family were on an overnight trip to an amusement park.
“Just so the jury’s clear, the beating occurred the day after the emergency room [visit],” Waddington said. “Is that right?”
“I guess,” the teenager said.
She soon began crying hysterically, and the judge called a recess so she could take medication. The teenager, who said she and her boyfriend discussed killing themselves if they couldn’t be together, is taking several sleep and anxiety medications and is being treated at a stateside psychiatric hospital. She returned to Seoul for the court-martial.
In court Wednesday, the teenager said her father punched her in the nose with a closed fist and that she bled on her clothes and a towel, but an investigator later testified that they found no traces of blood. The teenager said her father then threatened to hit her with an iron, but her mother stopped him.
The father said he should have killed her and began choking her, the teenager said. She said he also told her he would kill her and her boyfriend if they kept seeing each other, and that he could get a gun on post.
The teenager said her mother left the room, and her father ordered her to take her clothes off and lie on the bed. She said she did, and he molested her.
A few days later, following an argument, he took her to his room, locked the door and molested her again, the girl testified.
She said her father threatened to beat her again the next morning, but stopped after her older brother asked him if he wanted her to arrive at school with signs of a beating. The teen had her bag packed and planned to run away that morning, she said, but told a friend about the alleged abuse on the bus ride to school.
That friend called her mother, a social worker, who then contacted school officials. Investigators arrived at the school that afternoon, and the teenager moved in with the friend for several months until moving to the States.
David Eigner, a pediatrician at the hospital, examined the teenager and found assorted scratches and bruises, but no vaginal trauma. He said he wouldn’t expect to find any bruising or tearing since the daughter did not say the molestation included intercourse.
Eigner said the teenager told him that her father hit her on her side and stomach a day before she went to the hospital. She also told Eigner that her father had never hit her before.
When asked if the teenager, under the circumstances, should have told him the correct date, he said not necessarily.
“I think it’s very reasonable for somebody who’s scared and feels threatened to have her dates mixed up,” he said.
The father also was charged with one count of assault for allegedly beating his 4-year-old son. After the teenager told investigators her father had beaten her, her other siblings were checked for abuse. Pediatrician Beatriz Meza-Valencia found six round bruises, 1 to 1.5 inches in diameter, on the 4-year-old’s right buttock.
Meza-Valencia said the boy’s mother told her the bruises came from a spanking three days earlier, when he refused to take medicine for a fever. The father typically spanked his children with a half-closed fist, and the bruise marks likely came from his knuckles, she said.