CHAPTER 12 A
The trial was being held in the same auditorium that the awards ceremony was held in. Chairs and tables were added on and near the stage. A witness box was also added near the Judge's table. Microphones were set up next to pitchers of water and glasses that were placed on all the tables. Chairs were set up behind the tables for witnesses and spectators.
The video computer screen was set up off to the side of the witness chair so that everyone in the room could view the video. Video monitors would record every sight and sound of the proceedings. Just before zero nine hundred hours, Natalia walked in with Kacey This was a formal trial so the uniform of the day was formal attire. All crew personnel would be in dress uniforms. Kacey took her place behind Natalia.
Sergeant Castor, along with his lawyer was escorted into the room with an armed guard. The guard took his place behind Castor. The Tribunal Judges entered. Everyone stood until they took their seats.
"Be seated" Kate said. "Ensign would you read the charges against Sergeant Castor?"
"Yes Captain." The Ensign said. She picked up her hand computer and read from it. "Sergeant Barry Castor is accused of sexual harassment, physical assault, and unlawful restraint against Private Veronica Hastings on ten July twenty one seventy six during the hours of zero six hundred thirty hours to ten hundred hours fifteen minutes."
"Sergeant, you have heard the charges against you. How do you plead, guilty or not guilty?" Kate asked.
The Sergeant stood up and shouted. "Not guilty, that bitch..."
"That will be enough Sergeant." Kate talked over him. "Let the record show that the Sergeant pleads not guilty. We will now hear opening statements from Crewman Natalia Esperanza as acting prosecutor."
Natalia walked to the stage. "Good morning. We will prove beyond any shadow of a doubt that on ten July twenty one seventy six, Sergeant Barry Castor did sexually harass, physical abuse and restrain Private Veronica Hastings over the course of four hours. We have witness testimony as well as video evidence showing Sergeant Castor forced himself on Private Hastings, slapped her and attempted to undress her. The video will also show Private Hastings attempting to fight off Private Castor until he restrained her hands. Thank you."
"Representing Sergeant Castor is Mr. Reid Wilcox. Mr. Wilcox do you have an opening statement?"
Wilcox stood. "No opening statement at this time, Captain." He said and returned to his seat.
"Very well. Crewman Esperanza call you first witness."
Natalia stood up. "I call Private Veronica Hastings."
The Private walked to the witness stand. She stood, raised her right hand and placed her left on the bible while the Ensign administered the oath.
"Do you solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God?"
In a clear voice she said, "I do."
"Good morning Private. Would you take us through the events of ten July twenty one seventy six?"
"I was in the mess hall at zero six hundred hours for breakfast before my duty shift started at zero seven hundred hours. I was going through my duty list on my hand computer when Sergeant Castor came and sat down next to me. He took my hand computer and placed it on the table. He moved his chair close to mine and put his arm around my shoulders. He said he had been watching me since we lifted off."
"That is a lie. She invited me to sit down." Castor stood up and yelled. The guard pushed him back down into his seat.
"Did you invite him to join you Private?" Natalia asked.
"No ma'am I did not. I am..."
"That will be all Private. Thank you. What happened next?"
"He said he had been watching me since we lifted off and he could help me advance. He then put his hand on my thigh. I removed his hand, stood up, grabbed my hand computer and left the mess hall." The Private stated in a clear voice.
"Where did you go after you left the Mess Hall?"
"I went to the Hanger to start my duty shift."
"Was there any witnesses to Sergeant Castors actions?"
"Yes ma'am. The Head Cook, Mrs. O'Malley. She came over to ask if everything was all right."
"Private Hastings, take us through your morning."
"I was working and Sergeant Castor came over to me twice. Both times he tried to touch me, but I backed away. I told him I was not interested in his sort of help. I took a break around ten hundred hours. When I returned to the Hanger, Sergeant Castor grabbed my arm and pushed me into the corner behind the tool cases. He tried to kiss me, but I would not let him. He then slapped me across the face and tried to kiss me again. I tried to push him away, but he grabbed my hands and held them above my head. He then proceeded to unzip my coveralls. It was at that point Captain Taggart called us to attention."
"Private Hastings, did you at any point, in any way give Sergeant Castor any idea that you would be open to his advances?"
"No Ma'am. I am in a committed relationship with..."
"That will be all Private. Mr. Wilcox, your witness." Natalia sat down. Wilcox stood and walked to the witness stand.
"That was a very compelling story Private. You almost had me convinced."
"It was the truth Mr. Wilcox."
"Your version of the truth. Is that correct?"
"Yes sir." She admitted.
"Private you stated that you never gave Sergeant Castor any sort of encouragement. Are you absolutely certain."
"One hundred percent certain."
"How Private. How can you be so certain?"
"I can be that certain because I am as I just stated, in a committed relationship. Have been for five years."
"You would not be the first person in a so called committed relationship that looked at greener pastures. No matter how committed. Is that correct?"
"That is very true Mr. Wilcox. Except for the fact my partner is another woman. I would not leave her for any man. Especially someone like Sergeant Castor."
Her comment stunned the lawyer. He looked at his client.
"Mr. Wilcox, do you have any other questions for Private Hastings?"
"No further questions." He stated. "Captain at this time I would like to request a short break so that I can confer with my client."
Kate looked at her watch. "Lets take a twenty minute break. Everyone go grab some coffee. I want guards on all the exits." She said and stood up. The judges filed out. The room emptied except for Castor his lawyer and the guards.
To be continued...
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