SAN JOSE -- Everybody knows it's illegal to bribe a witness, but the family of a 53-year-old man on trial for raping an adult female relative learned Friday just how damaging such a financial offer can be.

Geoffrey Chambers was pronounced guilty in a he-said/she-said rape case, partly because the jury was impressed by the victim's refusal to accept a $30,000 bribe that a relative offered her not to testify.

There is no evidence Chambers himself knew of the offer, the jury of four women and eight men was told.

"It sort of solidified (the victim's) credibility because it showed she had nothing to gain," said one juror, a grocery store manager in his late 20s. "Honestly, the only thing she had to gain was justice."

Chambers, a short slender man with a shiny balding skull, slumped down in his chair as the clerk in Judge Deborah A. Ryan's courtroom intoned "guilty" on seven felony counts of rape, oral copulation and penetration. Then he yelled, "Come on, man, this is bull. I didn't rape anyone. It's a lie, man."

His grown daughter broke into sobs and promised her dad in a loud voice that, "It's not over, it's not over."

The attempted bribe added an unusual twist to the 12-day trial. Attempts to dissuade witnesses are more common in gang cases and even those don't usually occur while the trial is happening. The jury in Chambers' case was not told who offered the bribe lest it mislead them into unfairly believing that Chambers was behind it.


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The sister who allegedly offered the bribe, Stephanie Chambers, was arrested earlier this month and is expected to face charges later this fall. She is a flight attendant for Southwest Airlines, who on a run to Detroit allegedly made the offer to the victim, who was 19 when the encounter with Chambers occurred.

The crime of trying to dissuade a witness can be filed either as a misdemeanor or a felony. If it is charged as a felony, it is a strike crime with a maximum sentence of three years behind bars.

The conviction came as a blow because Chambers' defense lawyer Panteha Saban had presented a vigorous defense, offering the panel two arguments to prove he wasn't guilty.

One was that the sex was consensual and the victim made up the story because she was ashamed afterward of having sex with her relative.

The other was that Chambers was drunk and believed his advances were welcome because the victim offered no physical resistance.

But the jury believed prosecutor Bryan Slater's explanation instead -- that Chambers sexually assaulted the victim one evening in April 2011 immediately after he mentioned to the victim that some people thought he was gay. She casually responded that she too sometimes wondered.

In a recording of a phone call from jail that also helped convince the jury, Chambers said, "I let her know ... I'm not (expletive deleted) gay. I'm a hard-core Zulu (expletive deleted) warrior."

The jury also did not believe alcohol clouded Chambers' judgment. During two days of deliberations, the panel had the court reporter read back the victim's testimony, which took more than three hours.

The juror who works at a grocery store said it verified that the victim said "no" or "stop" at least three times, although she did not try to fight him off at any time during the five-hour encounter or run away while he was in the shower for 15 minutes.

"I'm appreciative the jury took the time to carefully consider the evidence and arrived at a verdict supported by the evidence," Slater said.

But Saban said the case will be appealed on the grounds that the prosecution failed to prove that there was force or duress involved. Under the law, the victim could have an unreasonable fear of Chambers, but he had to know she was afraid to take advantage of it. Saban contends that Chambers cuddled, caressed and spooned with the victim, and had no idea she was afraid.

Chambers faces a minimum of 15 years in prison and a maximum of 56 years. He is set to be sentenced Nov. 18.

Contact Tracey Kaplan at (408) 278-3482. Follow her on Twitter @tkaplanreport.