Advocate … Catherine Fisher has become a spokeswoman for rape victims in Japan.
AN AUSTRALIAN woman who won a Japanese civil judgment against a former US navy officer she accused of rape 10 years ago has taken her fight against her alleged attacker to Milwaukee.
Whether a Wisconsin court will enforce the judgment is far from decided, as the man she blames for sexual assault denies a crime occurred and has hired a lawyer to fight the unusual action.
Catherine Jane Umehara, more widely known as Catherine Fisher, sued Bloke Deans earlier this year, asking that a Wisconsin court order him to pay about $US61,000 ($58,328) in damages that a Japanese court had ordered in 2004.
Her lawyer, Christopher Hanewicz, argues the state can enforce the Japanese order under the Uniform Foreign Money Judgments Recognition Act.
Mr Deans's lawyer, Alex Flynn, objects to the claim of jurisdiction and has sought to have the suit dismissed.
Ms Fisher's case has generated publicity in Australia, where it was the subject of a 60 Minutes television news program, and in Japan, where she has lived since 1980.
The Australian consulate staff in Chicago attended a hearing in Milwaukee earlier this year.
''We have an interest obviously in providing the kind of support a government should provide its citizens,'' the deputy general consul, Lorenzo Strano, said. ''These are very delicate issues. When people come up against barriers, we try to assist as we can.
''We're not normally involved in civil matters. This case is a bit different.''
Ms Fisher has become one of Japan's few victim advocates.
''I have been very strong in the media advocating strongly for negotiating with the Japanese government to establish the first government-funded 24-hour rape crisis centre in Japan,'' Ms Fisher said in an email.
She also lobbied Japanese authorities to set up a team to deal with crimes ''particularly involving US military''.
Two US sailors and a marine were accused earlier this year of two rapes in Okinawa, prompting angry reaction from Japanese officials and putting Ms Fisher back in the limelight as a spokeswoman for greater rape victim advocacy.
According to a translation of the long Japanese civil court judgment, on file in the Milwaukee County case, Ms Fisher did not get that kind of reaction in her case.
Court records show Ms Fisher met Mr Deans in April 2002 at a bar near the American naval base at Yokosuka, and then was violently assaulted inside her van.
Mr Deans, now 40, was not prosecuted after Ms Fisher reported the alleged assault to Japanese police.
He left the Navy and Japan by the time Ms Fisher brought her later civil claim there.
When a film crew from 60 Minutes approached him earlier this year, Mr Deans called Ms Fisher's claim a lie before declining to talk further and driving off.