US Envoy in Okinawa Over Rape Case
Associated Press Writer
The U.S. ambassador visited Okinawa on Wednesday to quell rising anger over the arrest of an American Marine on suspicion of raping a 14-year-old schoolgirl _ the type of crime that sparked massive protests against the U.S. military in the 1990s.
Ambassador Thomas Schieffer was to meet with Okinawa Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima later in the day to express U.S. concern over the case and offer cooperation in the investigation, in line with comments from other U.S. officials in Japan and Washington, the U.S. Embassy said.
Staff Sgt. Tyrone Luther Hadnott, a 38-year-old Marine from Camp Courtney in Okinawa, was arrested Monday over the alleged attack on the schoolgirl the night before. The case prompted comparisons with the rape of a 12-year-old girl in Okinawa in 1995 by three U.S. servicemen.
Top Japanese officials have expressed their consternation over the persistence of U.S. military-related crimes in Japan. Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda called the latest situation "unforgivable" Tuesday and called for tighter discipline among American soldiers.
Okinawa, which hosts a majority of the 50,000 U.S. troops based in Japan, is considered a linchpin in the American military presence in Asia, and U.S. officials have been eager to avoid a damaging spike in anti-U.S. military sentiment on the island. Okinawans have long complained of soldier-committed crimes.
Prosecutors took over the case Tuesday, a move that allows authorities to hold Hadnott for another 20 days before formally charging him.
Hadnott's hometown has not yet been released.
About 250 people gathered to protest in front of the U.S. Marines' headquarters in Okinawa on Tuesday, the Japanese newspaper Mainichi reported.
Japanese police said the girl met Hadnott on Sunday and accepted a ride on his motorbike after he offered to take her home. Hadnott allegedly took her to his house instead. When the girl started crying he said he would drive her home, and the girl claimed he raped her in a car, police said.
Hadnott told investigators he forced the girl down and kissed her but did not rape her, police said.
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