US Marine charged with sexually assaulting woman in Okinawa

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A 22-year-old U.S. Marine was charged in December with an alleged sexual assault that injured a woman in Okinawa Prefecture, local prosecutors said Tuesday, bringing to light another alleged crime involving U.S. military personnel.

The Marine, Lance Corp. Jordan Begaye, allegedly assaulted the woman, with whom he had no personal acquaintance, off base in October. The victim was injured in the assault, according to the indictment and investigators.

Prosecutors did not disclose whether Begaye admitted to the charge. They charged him on December 23 but said they refrained from informing the public of the case “due to its nature”.

Police also said they did not reveal it “in consideration of the woman’s privacy”.

Police said they received a call from neighbors saying a woman was seeking help, but Begaye had escaped when they rushed to the scene.

After investigating the case with the cooperation of the US side, police referred it to prosecutors on December 3 as an alleged indecent assault resulting in injury.

The US military handed over the accused to Japanese authorities following the December 23 indictment, in accordance with the status of forces agreement between Japan and the United States.

“Marine Corps leadership remains committed to maintaining an environment that rejects sexual assault and the attitudes that promote such behavior,” Marine Corps Installations Pacific said via email, describing the incidents as “contrary to our core values.” .

The alleged sexual assault “was taken extremely seriously and aggressively investigated” by US military law enforcement, the statement said.

Okinawa is home to the bulk of US military installations in Japan. Many local residents have expressed frustration with the noise, crime and accidents related to the facilities.

“This is never to be forgiven, and we feel intense anger,” Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki said in a statement. “An incident like this has been repeated. It must be said that the education and management system of the American army in Okinawa is extremely inadequate.”

U.S. officials notified the Okinawa prefectural government of the incident following his indictment, he said.

The prefectural government said it summoned US and Japanese officials in late December and lodged a protest with them behind closed doors.

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