Guam Policeman Claims Sex At Blue House Was Consensual

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David Manila denies any knowledge of prostitution at lounge

By Cameron Miculka

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Sept. 6, 2013) – Guam police officer David Manila yesterday said he had no idea there was prostitution happening at the Blue House lounge before he had sex with one of the lounge's employees.

Nor did he see any indication the women were being kept against their will and forced into sex slavery by the lounge's owner, Song Ja Cha.

Manila testified yesterday in his own defense at the trial against him and co-defendant Officer Anthony Quenga. They are accused of helping Cha force her workers into prostitution.

The officer testified that he responded to the Blue House lounge several times a week, but usually for incidents involving rowdy customers who refused to pay their bills.

The Blue House lounge was a karaoke lounge Cha operated between 2004 and 2008. During that time, it was actually a brothel where several women, mostly from Chuuk, were forced into prostitution for little pay.

Manila told the court he only went to the Blue House once as a customer and was out of uniform at the time.

He said he was at the bar when Cha approached him and invited him to go to the lounge's VIP room with one of the lounge's workers and supervisors, Saknin Weria. Manila, however, said yesterday he didn't know who Weria was at the time.

He said he bought two drinks for $20 each and sang karaoke with the woman inside the VIP room. He said he placed his hand on her knee and, eventually the two began kissing.

"One thing led to another and we started undressing and we have sex," he said, "or we made love."

He's charged with raping Weria and the woman testified earlier in the trial that she didn't want to have sex with Manila, since he's a police officer.

Manila, though, said the woman never looked scared or told him she didn't want to have sex.

In his opinion, he said, it was consensual.

Manila and Quenga are also accused of intimidating the women, threatening to arrest them if they didn't do what Mama-san, referring to Cha's nickname, said.

But that's not true, said Manila.

Despite the testimony of the victims and his former co-defendant Officer Mario Laxamana, Manila said he never threatened the girls and rarely even spoke to them.

He said there was only one time Cha asked Manila to talk to one of the girls. Manila said he told the girl that "If you owe Mama-san, it's only fair if you pay her back," he said.

"It's more or less like a friendly advice," he said.

Furthermore, even if the woman did owe money, there wasn't much he could do.

"It's no crime," he said. "I'm not going to arrest her if she owes Mama-san money."

When Manila's defense attorney, Terence Timblin, asked Manila when he was first contacted about the case, Manila replied that he was interviewed by federal investigators who asked him if he "was involved with any prostitution."

"I kept denying it and denying it," Manila said.

He maintained he had no involvement until after investigators indicated that the women at the lounge identified him in a photo lineup.

"Again I kept denying. I guess when it got close to the federal court (trial), that's when I finally admit and told them 'Yes, I had sex,'" he said.

Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Quan, though, didn't believe Manila was as innocent as he claimed.

During cross-examination, Quan confronted Manila about why he took so long to come forward about the sex after the lounge was raided and subsequently investigated in 2008.

"So if it's consensual, why would you lie to the sergeant at the (Immigration and Naturalization Services) board?" asked Quan.

"Scared," Manila replied with a shrug.

"So you lied?" Quan asked.

"Intentionally, no sir," replied Manila.

The officer admitted that he knew prostitution was illegal and lied to the board when he denied any involvement at all and also admitted that he lied out of fear that he'd lose his job and wife if the truth came out.

Quan seized on the opportunity to question Manila's credibility.

"You lie when you are scared, that's what you said, right?" asked Quan.

"Yes," said the officer.

"Are you scared of going to jail now?" asked Quan.

"I'm in jail already," Manila replied.

Quan repeated his question, emphasizing all his words.

"Are you scared of going to jail now?"

Manila paused and took a breath.

"I have a family," he said. "Yes."

Both Manila's defense and the prosecution rested their cases in the trial yesterday. Attorney Sylvia Stake, who represents Quenga, will present her case today.

Closing arguments are tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, after which the jury will be given instructions before beginning deliberations.

Manila and Quenga are charged with several prostitution-related crimes, kidnapping and sex crimes. A joint motion filed by their respective defense attorneys to drop the charges against the officers, alleging the evidence didn't support the crimes, failed yesterday after arguments were presented before Judge Anita Sukola, who is hearing the case.

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