In a landmark case, on September 6, 2012, a Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Circuit Court Judge gave standing to an Australian woman to collect a Japanese civil judgment against a former US Navy sailor for raping her in Japan 10 years ago.
Perpetrator Given Honorable Discharge and Left Japan without informing Japanese Court
A civil judgment by a Tokyo court in 2004 ordered sailor Bloke T. Deans to pay 3 million yen in damages to Catherine Jane Fisher as compensation for emotional and physical harm from the rape. However, despite knowing of the Japanese court case against Deans, the US Navy issued Deans an honorable discharge and allowed Deans to leave Japan without informing the Japanese court or Ms. Fisher.
Because Deans had departed Japan, the Japanese courts were unable to enforce the ruling against Deans and Ms. Fisher never received any compensation from that judgment for emotional and physical damages caused by Deans.
In 2008, Ms. Fisher was provided some compensation for damages from a Japanese Ministry of Defense fund for victims of crimes committed by U.S. military personnel.
Deans located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin-Lawsuit filed
For 10 years, Fisher searched for Deans and, in 2011, she finally located him in Milwaukee. In May, 2012, Fisher filed a suit against Deans in Milwaukee Circuit Court.
On September 6, 2012, the Milwaukee Circuit Court Judge denied Deans' motion to dismiss Fisher's complaint to enforce the Japanese judgment. After reviewing the briefs and listening to oral arguments of both sides, the Judge found that Deans' procedural objections to the complaint were not sufficient to prevent the case from going forward.
Fisher will now be able to proceed with the substance of the case, in which her legal team from the Madison, Wisconsin office of law firm Perkins Coie will argue that under the common law principles of comity, the Milwaukee court should recognize and enforce the Japanese judgment.
After the September 6 hearing, law firm representative Christopher Hanewicz stated, "We are very satisfied with the Judge's decision, which is an important step in holding Mr. Deans accountable for his actions, bringing some sense of closure to Ms. Fisher's ten year ordeal."
After returning to the United States, Deans committed other crimes. According to Wisconsin court records, Deans was sentenced in 2012 to 45 days in jail in Milwaukee County for child neglect. Police found three of his children left alone in his house in a room locked from the outside. A 2-year-old and two 3-year-old twins were covered in their own feces and urine. Deans reportedly has 11 children.
Deans owns nine houses in Milwaukee and receives a military disability pension.
The next stage of Ms. Fisher's journey for justice will be an October 18, 2012 status hearing in Milwaukee in which decisions on a trial date and other aspects of the case will be made.
Rape of Civilian Women in Japan
Thousands of Japanese women and girls have been sexually assaulted or raped by US military personnel since American forces invaded Japan in 1945. On the island of Okinawa, rape of Okinawan girls has happened so frequently and has precipitated massive citizen protests that that the US military is being forced to reduce its presence on the island.