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Coast Guard convicts petty officer in assault case

Apr. 23, 2014 - 08:06AM   |  
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NEW ORLEANS — A jury of eight Coast Guard members, after a weeklong court-martial in federal court in New Orleans, has convicted one of their own in a sexual assault of a female Coast Guard member in late 2012.

The jury of five women and three men deliberated for more than 12 hours over two days before finding 22-year-old Petty Officer 3rd Class Joe D. Newmans guilty Friday on two counts of sexual assault and one count of assault “consummated by a battery” under military law.

The New Orleans Advocate reports the jury acquitted Newmans on one count of the latter charge in connection with the Nov. 29, 2012, incident.

Newmans was sentenced to 90 days confinement, reduction to E-1 — the lowest enlisted pay grade — and a bad conduct discharge.

Newmans was days away from leaving the military service when he crawled into bed with the woman at her apartment in New Orleans following a get-together with fellow personnel and forced himself on her, the prosecution said. The woman, a close colleague, reported the incident the following day.

The jury apparently was swayed at least in part by her testimony that Newmans held her down, bruising her wrists and raping her despite repeated demands to stop.

Military attorneys for Newmans countered that she reported the incident only after her boyfriend grew angry, that she and Newmans had an intimate, growing friendship and that she told him to get a condom from another room before the alleged rape.

The woman, however, said she only wanted to protect herself from a sexually transmitted disease.

“He’d told me his past. He said he slept with like 40 people,” she said. “I was scared. I didn’t know what to do.”

The incident took place after a study session turned to drinking in the apartment, where Newmans lingered at the end of the night, then entered her room as she was going to sleep during the fourth quarter of a football game between the Saints and Falcons they’d been watching on TV.

“He got in the bed. I thought it was just to go to sleep. He started to try to touch me. I just told him to stop. Yelling at him,” she testified. “He wouldn’t. He was trying to stick his hand down my pants.”

The same jury was tasked with sentencing Newmans, whose relatives spoke on his behalf after the verdict was returned. Joe Newmans also addressed the jury. Two female jurors sniffled and dabbed tissues to their eyes as Newmans’ welled up. He stood facing the jury, smiling and weeping.

“I never had an angry thought about hurting someone. I feel terrible that the situation that did happen, happened. I can’t take it back. I wish I could,” he said. “I’m a good person. I have good family values.”

The victim was not in the courtroom during his statements.

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