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L’Affaire Nicole Et Daniel: The 5-Minute Date Rape Revisited

May 1, 2009

nicole-daniel-montage

Was it rape or a consensual one-night-stand that change the course of their young lives and put extremely nationalist Filipinos at odds with their supplicant government and its long- time ally?

I am revisiting the issue after esteemed Prof. Abe Margallo, one of the lawyer-contributors over at FilipinoVoices.com excerpted interesting snippets from the 71-page April 23, 2009 decision of the Court of Appeals 11th Special Division which reversed  the Dec. 4,  2006 ruling of RTC Judge Benjamin Pozon.

Judge Pozon had found Americam Marine Daniel Smith guilty beyond reasonable doubt of raping a 22-year-old Filipina, Suzette Sombilon Nicolas who was given the alias of Nicole to protect he identity.

Suzette’s name and likeness were revealed after she recanted her rape story nearly 3 years after the fact.

The recantation came to light in a quick sequence of events that saw her unceremoniously terminating her lawyer’s service and taking a secret flight out to settle down in the United States on the strength of a Fiance Visa after accepting PhP in cash supposedly from Smith.

The ‘facilitated’ departure of Suzette plus her new ‘realization’ that “maybe” she wasn’t actually raped was a bombshell of a twist in a sensational case that had galvanized renewed opposition to the RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement, even triggering calls for its abrogation.

In his own look-back to the CA ruling, Prof. Abe Margallo has raised an interesting counter thesis to the incessantly discussed principle that Daniel Smith’s ‘sacred’ right to presumption of innocence had been “unethically violated” by both bloggers and mainstream new media journalists who’ve been derisively tagged as “ignoble and disconsolate lynch mobbers.”

Prof. Margallo observes that through a rhetorical question if Nicole was, on the basis of the appellate court’s fulsome denunciation of her “indecorous behavior,” correspondingly slapped with the “presumption of  uninnocence.”

http://filipinovoices.com/presumption-of-uninnocence-2

I’ve more copiously gone over the CA decision for the 4th time and there are quite interesting  elements that jumped out of the pages(Page 38 in particular), among them the contrasting narratives about the tryst-cum-rape incident.

It is revealed in the CA ruling  (which culled the trial records) that the entire encounter between Saniel and Suzette was not really even a one-nighter but more accurately lasted for five minutes max.

ca-smith-decision-p-38

To top it off, while the sexual act, whether it was a rape or a consensual act, had left Suzette in tears with bruise privates while the Lance Corporal by his own admission “did not achieve climax because of lack of time.”

Looking at this now, my own sense of frustration lingers over the sordid incident, realizing how a thoroughly careless, brief moment one evening at a former US military base has scarred relations on various levels, national and individual.

C’est la vie, I guess.

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