From our News Partners at WCBD-TV:
A Charleston-based coast guardsman charged with sexual assault and rape could face more than 20 years of jail time if found guilty.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Omar Gomez, 35, has been in court for the past three days before a military judge. Testimony has also been presented by Ltr. Commander Citron and Lt. Tiley for eight alleged victims.
One by one, the women described how Gomez was responsible for a broad spectrum of sexually related misconduct; ranging from rape to inappropriate comments. Of the eight accusers, six are in the Coast Guard and two are civilians.
The investigation began immediately after a sexual assault aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Gallatin was reported September 16, 2012. The crimes stem back to 2006 aboard the Coast Guard Polar Bear Star based in Seattle. The alleged acts occurred on in several ports including Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and Roatan Honduras.
There are five charges against Gomez.
Most of the women claim the events went unreported because they did not know who to approach and because "it was already hard enough being on the Coast Guard Cutter Gallatin."
Throughout the fourth day of trial, the defense aimed at trying to show to the jury that a large percentage of the enlisted crew participated in the "culture" of the ship. A culture they say consisted of banter, slapping each other's buttocks, and using profanity. They tried to show the women consented and actively participated in the behavior.
One woman who took the stand on Thursday accuses Gomez of trying to touch her genitals while on active duty while the cutter was stationed in Guantanamo Bay. Gomez was her superior at the time. According to the victim, Gomez also maltreated her by reportedly stating to her, "You have to let me (expletive) you before you go to "A" school," or words to that affect.
The defense questioned her motives because she reportedly performed "below average" while aboard the Gallatin, and Gomez was responsible for her marks.
Another woman said that in February of 2012, Gomez sexually assaulted her at her apartment while she showed him a new tattoo. Gomez allegedly straddled her on the sofa and pulled her jeans off but then he backed away when she threatened to report the incident.
During the trial, the defense was quick to pull out transcripts of text messages between that particular accuser and Gomez. Some of text messages, argued the defense, alluded to a romantic relationship with Gomez.
The trial ended Thursday with the defense making their case and calling their witnesses. The trial continues on Friday.
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