Survivor of US Military Rape in Japan Allowed to Pursue Perpetrator in US Courts

Milwaukee, WI— 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 ten years ago.

A civil judgment by a Tokyo court in 2004 ordered sailor Bloke T. Deans to pay ¥3 million yen (approximately $38,000) 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.

For ten years, Ms. Fisher searched for Mr. Deans and in 2011 she finally located him in Milwaukee. In May, 2012, Ms. Fisher filed a suit against Mr. Deans in Milwaukee Circuit Court.

On September 6, 2012, the Milwaukee Circuit Court Judge denied Deans’ motion to dismiss Ms. Fisher’s complaint to enforce the Japanese judgment.

Ms. Fisher will now be able to proceed with the substance of the case, in which Ms. Fisher’s 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, Perkins Coie attorney 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.”

Retired US Army Reserve Colonel Ann Wright attended the hearing and said “While 1 in 3 women in the military are raped by fellow servicemen during their service, many civilian women living near US military bases in the United States and in other countries are also raped by US military personnel. This case gives hope for those living in other countries who have never been able to hold the rapist accountable because he has been able to leave the country.”

Members of the Milwaukee chapter of Veterans for Peace and Peace Action Wisconsin attended the court hearing in solidarity with Ms. Fisher.