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Jury deliberates in Va. in Peace Corps rape trial

Wednesday - 2/29/2012, 5:29pm  ET

By BROCK VERGAKIS
Associated Press

NORFOLK, Va. - A military jury began deliberating Wednesday whether to convict a special warfare sailor accused of raping a Peace Corps volunteer in Uganda multiple times after he refused to wear a condom.

The case has shined a light on the safety of Peace Corps volunteers, with defense attorneys noting that the woman never called a hotline set up for them if they need help.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Camaren Walker was in the East African nation in November 2010 as a construction worker to support a small group of Navy SEALs. Military prosecutors say that he met the volunteer, who now lives in Washington, at a bar one night and that she willingly went back to his hotel room.

Prosecutors say that Walker, who is originally from Reynoldsburg, Ohio, and the woman, who are both 27, started having consensual sex. But prosecutors say that after his condom came off twice, she wanted him to stop.

"He didn't want to follow (the accuser's) one rule for consensual sex," Lt. Aaron Riggio said. "She was very clear what her rule was."

Prosecutors said he then choked her to the point that she feared for her life. Later, they said he assaulted her in the shower and that she feared he would crush her trachea and might drown. The woman testified he didn't have to force himself on her two other times because she learned what would happen if she did. The Associated Press generally does not identify victims of sexual assault.

Walker's defense attorney said during closing arguments that the woman simply regretted her decision to have a one-night stand, was embarrassed by her actions and wanted to protect her reputation. The woman's work in Africa included teaching girls in a rural part of the country to avoid peer pressure and to use condoms. Lt. Lauren Mayo repeatedly said the woman's story was unbelievable.

Among other things, Mayo noted that the woman sent her friends back to the hotel room to retrieve her earrings after the assaults were said to have occurred. Mayo also said the woman hugged Walker before leaving in the morning and that she slept in Walker's clothes instead of her own. The woman said she didn't try to leave the room because Uganda is such a dangerous country at night, but Mayo noted she stayed there for four hours after the sun rose.

The woman testified that she didn't scream, attempt to fight off Walker or ask his roommate, Chief Petty Officer William Witt, for help. The woman said she was worried Witt might try to rape her, too. She was unaware that the men were in the Navy. Walker does construction work for Virginia Beach-based SEALs and his record shows that he has won medals for good conduct and humanitarian service.

The roommate said he saw the woman get into Walker's bed after one of the alleged assaults. Witt was sleeping in the next bed at the time when one of the other alleged assaults happened, but he said he only heard kissing.

After seeing the woman after get out of the shower following the alleged second assault, "she still seemed happy," Witt said.

Witt said he was annoyed that Walker asked him to leave the room while he was talking with his wife on her birthday so he could be alone with the woman, but he had no idea that anything was amiss.

He said he didn't learn until the next day that Walker had choked the woman. He said Walker told him that when she said that she didn't like being choked, he stopped.

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Online: Brock Vergakis can be reached at www.twitter.com/BrockVergakis


(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Tags: peace corpsugandarape