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Woman claims she was sexually assaulted by servicemember in Okinawa and he was not charged

  • March 29, 2022
  • , Okinawa Times , p. 19
  • JMH Translation

“A crime that actually happened cannot be erased,” a woman told the Okinawa Times on March 28. “I want the police to squarely respond to the voices of crime victims.” The woman living outside Okinawa Prefecture says she was sexually assaulted by a  U.S. serviceman stationed in Okinawa in April last year at a lodging facility where she stayed for medical treatment on the main island of Okinawa. She expressed anger at the Okinawa prefectural police and the U.S. military.


“The inconsiderate words of the police deepened the pain I felt,” she claimed. “And the police did not accept my complaint and even destroyed the evidence they confiscated without telling me.” She also said she filed a complaint with a U.S. military investigative agency, but they did not apprehend the suspect, did not look into the matter because the evidence was destroyed, and forwent making a case against him.


The woman has experience in doing business in English. She met the U.S. serviceman two years ago through an internet site, and they have been communicating with each other through video calls and other means. She trusted the U.S. soldier who has medical knowledge and experience, because, in addition to talking about their shared interests, she said, “I often consulted him about an injury I was suffering from and my family member’s illnesses.”


After consulting with a healthcare specialist, the woman stayed in Okinawa for about a month last April to work on her post-surgery rehabilitation in a warm environment.


The “incident” occurred a few days before she left Okinawa. “I invited the U.S. serviceman to dinner to thank him for helping me with my rehabilitation,” said she. Because the serviceman told her, “The U.S. military personnel are prohibited from eating out at restaurants due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” she ended up inviting him to the lodging facility where she was staying. The facility has a kitchen. 


The U.S. soldier who is normally calm abruptly changed after dinner. “Suddenly, he turned off the lights in the room and pushed me down on the bed. In the darkness, he pulled my hair and strangled me,” she said, her voice trembling. She resisted but he sexually assaulted her.


After the U.S. soldier returned to base and the woman was alone, she called the police. Investigators from the local police station arrived, asked her about her relationship with the soldier, and said, “We can’t prove what happened because it occurred in private, so we can’t accept your complaint.”


“I repeatedly explained to the police that the U.S. serviceman sexually assaulted me against my will,” said she. “But the investigators turned a deaf year to my complaint.” She continued, saying, “The investigators questioned me about the sexual act and the size of the condom as if they are teasing me, which cause me further pain.”


She also requested that she be medically checked at a hospital but the police did not take her to a hospital. The police did not provide her either with information about sexually transmitted disease testing or counseling, which are available to victims of sex crimes at public expense.


After the woman returned to her hometown, because she was not satisfied with the local police’s response, she contacted the Okinawa prefectural police headquarters in May last year. The police told her that the local police had disposed of all evidence collected at the scene, including the condom discarded by the U.S. soldier and fingerprints taken from around the bed and the table. She emphasized that the police did not issue a list of the evidence, as they should have done, and did not even consult her about the evidence disposition.


In response to the woman’s request, the U.S. military took over the case from the local police. Soon the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) Resident Agency Okinawa, which investigates crimes committed by U.S. Navy sailors and Marine Corps members, contacted her. In early June last year, NCIS Far East Field Office formally accepted the woman’s complaint. She expected that the NCIS would initiate an investigation, but it was unable to make a case against the U.S. serviceman because the evidence had been disposed of. The U.S. military forwent disciplinary action against the serviceman.


Regarding the woman’ claims about what the Japanese investigators told her and whether the evidence collected at the scene was disposed of without her consent, the Okinawa Times asked the local police, but as of March 28, the police has not provided any information, saying, “We cannot answer that question because it is not a public relations matter.” The U.S. Marine Corps public affairs office in Okinawa did not respond to the Okinawa Times’ inquiry either, saying, “Please contact the local police.” (Abridged)

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