Tampa Marine says Greek Orthodox priest attacked him

12:10 PM, Nov 13, 2009   |    comments
Fr. Alexios Marakis (left) & Lance Cpl. Jasen Bruce
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ST. PETERSBURG, Florida (WTSP) - Lance Corporal Jasen Bruce shakes his head when he talks about that fateful night. 

Even he says it doesn't make sense.

"It's still a bizarre, bizarre case, and it still traumatizes me, and I feel like I've been violated at every level, personally, through the justice system and the media. Big time," the Marine Reservist admits.

Bruce says that he was attacked by Greek Orthodox Priest Alexios Marakis, when the man allegedly grabbed the Lance Corporal's genitals in a gated Channelside apartment parking garage.

It was strange, the 28-year-old says, that a priest would find his way into a private parking garage to reportedly ask for directions, especially when there were several convenience stores nearby.

"I live on a dark, dead-end street. Why did he come into my garage. It's gated and guarded," Bruce says.

The Lance Corporal feels that Marakis had no business being in there.

After the priest allegedly grabbed Bruce's genitals, the Marine Reservist fought back in an effort, he says, to protect himself.  "It was self defense. This man was attacking me."

The two fell to the ground and got into a scuffle, which escalated to a chase around the building.  Bruce says the priest would not give up and go away, so the Reservist used a tire iron "to protect himself from bodily harm."

"Oringially, I thought he was a homeless guy," Bruce said.  "Then, without another second going by, he grabbed my genitals, and proceeded to say, 'I want to have sex with you,' but said the 'F' word."

Bruce called 911 immediately and says he stayed on the phone the entire time during the incident.  In fact, police were "nice to me," Bruce said, "and called me a hero."

But hours later, it was Bruce who was arrested, held in jail for 15 hours, and then subsequently released.

After a press conference held by his attorney Jeffrey Brown, Bruce told his story to the popular syndicated radio show Bubba the Love Sponge.  The Lance Corporal went into detail about his disaapointment with the way he says, "things were handled."

"Why would I call 911 on myself and commit a hate crime?  It's ridiculous.  To put someone like me in prison, and let this guy go and continue to do what he's doing, is absurd to me," Bruce said.

10  Connects is the only station Bruce granted an interview to. He says he wanted to set the record straight and make sure people knew "what really happened that night."

The surveillance tape from the garage, along with the 911 call and police report, has not been released to the media, pending the outcome of the investigation.

Bruce says he cooperated "so fully that I even helped police with their investigation.  I helped them go through the priest's car."

Tampa Police say this is not true.

However, Bruce's attorney claims his client will be more than willing to "provide a list of items in the car to prove that he did help. How else would he know what was inside if he didn't help," Jeffrey Brown told us Thursday evening.

The newlywed, married just over a month, calls what he's going through "a nightmare" and says his family has received death threats. But, his faith in God, country, and family, he says, will get him through this.  In fact, he would do it all over again the same way if he had to, he tells us.

"What I did... I would not change at all. I've potentially taken, and I know it sounds bizarre, an orthodox priest, but I, you know, would be ashamed if this guy was set free and I did time. I would not change a thing," Bruce says.

So, what does the future hold for this 28-year-old, who is hoping to attend medical school?   He could be facing possible charges of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon.  If convicted, the Reservist could face up to 60 years in prison.

But, Bruce says he is keeping positive and praying for a bright future. A deployment, he tells us, would allow him to take part in the post-9/11 G.I. bill for school tuition.

"Where I go from here is to clear my name, and let the truth prevail, and move forward with my dreams and goals and put this behind me," Bruce says.

Father Marakis has declined numerous opportunities for an interview. 

Father Marakis and Lance Corporal Jasen Bruce recount the attack differently.

Original story posted by: 10 Connects /WTSP Tampa

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