Master Sgt. Napolean Bailey is either a manipulative monster or a conscientious boyfriend living “every man’s worst nightmare.”
Those opposing views - the first from military prosecutors, the second from attorneys for the 21-year Air Force veteran - were given to an eight-man court-martial jury before it began deliberations Thursday.
The Fairchild Air Force Base security policeman was portrayed by the prosecutor, Capt. Chris Santoro, as a sexual predator who lured women into relationships where he increasingly controlled their lives, then beat and raped them.
“He starts out as the man of all these women’s dreams,” Santoro said. “He ends up as the man of their nightmares.”
As he stood in front of the jury of four officers and four senior enlisted men, Santoro tapped his palm with a security policeman’s night stick. One of Bailey’s accusers used the stick when demonstrating how he allegedly backed her against a wall and choked her during an argument.
That woman was one of three who recounted assaults by Bailey over the last five years. Two others said he raped and forcibly sodomized them, and threatened to kill them. When one reported the assaults, she said Bailey convinced her to retract the statement, which ended military investigations against him.
“If you don’t convict him of raping (one victim) and sodomizing her, what you’re doing is validating his choice of victims,” Santoro said, pointing the night stick at Bailey.
Bailey’s attorney, Capt. Beth Townsend, accused Santoro of waving the night stick as an appeal to the emotions while putting a “twisted spin” on weak facts.
Although prosecutors claimed that a specific pattern existed to the relationships that all three women had with Bailey, Townsend argued each story was different. The first woman, another Air Force sergeant, did not report any sexual assaults.
The other two were in long-term relationships with Bailey that they admitted involved consensual anal intercourse and “rough sex.”
The relationships weren’t perfect, she conceded to the all-male jury. But some of the sex acts the women reported would have required their assistance.
“Isn’t that every man’s worst nightmare - being accused of sexual assault by a woman he’s just had consensual sex with? And there’s no way to prove either way,” she said.
Prosecutors “portrayed these women as mindless, helpless victims,” Townsend said. “These were relationships entered into by adult women.”
The Air Force sergeant portrayed by prosecutors as a helpless victim was the top noncommissioned officer of the year at Fairchild, Townsend said. She never reported any assaults, and was expecting Bailey to join her after she was transferred to Korea.
Instead she received a phone call saying he was having an affair with her friend.
“She was, essentially, a scorned woman,” Townsend contended.
Another woman, a Spokane legal secretary, was not helpless and passive as suggested, but someone who constantly fought with Bailey.
“Would a woman who is so controlled and so frightened fight back?” the defense attorney asked.
Santoro and Townsend each gave differing views of a fight that occurred in the woman’s apartment and was witnessed by her 8-year-old daughter. The girl testified during the court-martial that she sneaked out of her bedroom quietly - because she was afraid of monsters - and saw Bailey and her mother fighting.
“The ‘monster’ was whacking her mother over the head with a pot,” Santoro said, pointing at Bailey.
Townsend reminded jurors the girl said she saw her mother take the pot from Bailey, return the blow and bite him.
The third woman reported a Sept. 5 rape to police after friends urged her to go to Deaconess Medical Center for treatment. It was a humiliating experience, made worse by being “pummeled” by defense questions on the witness stand, Santoro said.
“Why would a woman who hadn’t been raped do that?” he asked the jury.
But Townsend argued the hospital exam turned up no evidence to support the claim of a violent rape that allegedly involved sex in four different positions.
“This was a consensual relationship. He stopped when he heard her say ‘stop,”’ she said.
The jury, which deliberated until 6:30 p.m. Thursday, is considering a total of 17 separate counts against Bailey. At least six members of the panel must agree he’s guilty of a particular count for him to be convicted on that charge.
The jury could convict him of some offenses even if the members agree with Bailey’s attorneys that some sex acts were consensual. Under military law, sodomy is a crime even when both parties consent.
If the jury finds Bailey guilty of any of the crimes, it will immediately begin deliberations on the appropriate punishment.<
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