On December 4, U.S. Marine corporal Daniel Smith was found guilty and sentenced to imprisonment of 20 to 40 years for the rape of a 23-year old Filipina in Subic Bay in the Philippines. The rape, which occurred more than a year ago, has again brought to the fore long-simmering political and cultural tensions between the U.S. and its former colony. Three other co-accused, U.S. Marines Chad Carpentier, Dominic Duplantis and Keith Silkwood, were acquitted and promptly whisked out of the country.
The 21-year old Smith now finds himself an inmate of the Makati City Jail, facing a bleak and uncertain future, as his case winds its way on appeal through the Philippine judicial system. The victim and her supporters, given the pseudonym “Nicole” by the media, feels that justice has been done. Others are not so sure.
I confess to feeling ambiguous about the whole thing. I was disinclined to follow the case because of the high emotions that attended it from the very start. It was hard to get a fix on it from all the noise. There were also nagging questions in the back of my mind. Was this really a case of a hapless victim who was brutally violated by barbarous foreigners, as the prosecution asserts ? Or is this one wherein, per the defense, a woman scorned merely wanted to exact revenge ? I suspected that the answer lay somewhere in between.
Under Philippine law and settled jurisprudence, rape is committed by having carnal knowledge of a woman under any of the following circumstances: (1) by using force or intimidation and/or; (2) when the woman is deprived of reason or otherwise unconscious. According to the decision penned by Judge Benjamin Pozon, Smith “knew” Nicole was drunk on the night of the incident and “took advantage” of her condition. She was thus unable to resist Smith’s lewd designs. The court found no conspiracy, however, and Duplantis, Carpentier and Silkwood were freed. As stated in the ruling: “The court is morally convinced that accused Smith committed the crime charged”. Furthermore, “He (Smith) admitted having sexual intercourse with the complainant, who he knew was intoxicated and rendered unconscious by the accumulated effects of the different alcoholic drinks she had previously taken in succession, at the time of the commission of the felony.”
Rape is a heinous crime and cannot be countenanced under any circumstance. In this case, there seems to be enough basis for the “moral” conviction that Nicole has indeed been raped by Smith. The court concluded that this was a case of “date rape”, although the term itself was not used.
But this whole affair is not as clear-cut as it would seem from a cursory reading of the facts.