U.S. Marine accused of raping 14-year-old girl in Okinawa Prefecture

News Report
Ikaika M Hussey

From the Asahi Shimbun 2/12/08:

NAHA–Police arrested a U.S. Marine on Monday on suspicion of raping a 14-year-old girl in Okinawa Prefecture, drawing immediate outrage from the governor that is spreading across the prefecture.

The suspect, Staff Sgt. Tyrone Hadnott, 38, has denied he raped the junior high school student, saying he only tried to force her into his arms and kiss her, according to investigators.

"Our government will firmly carry out negotiations with the United States," Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda told a Lower House Budget Committee meeting on Tuesday. "We will do our utmost to clarify what happened and prevent a recurrence of similar incidents."

Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura told a news conference Tuesday that the government will convey its concerns to U.S. Ambassador to Japan Thomas Schieffer.

According to the investigation, Hadnott talked to the girl, who was with her friends, in the city of Okinawa around 8:30 p.m. Sunday, although he had not met the girl before.

She accepted his offer for a ride home on his motorcycle, they said. But he took her instead to his house in the Shimabuku district ofKita-Nakagusuku village.

However, she fled after he tried to attack her. He chased her in his car, found her and then assured her that he would drive her home, investigators said.

She agreed. He then drove to a street in the neighboring town of Chatan, where he parked the car and raped her around 1 0 :35 p.m., investigators said.

Around 9:20 p.m., the girl had sent e-mail messages from her cellphone to a friend, such as: "Help me," and "I have been taken away by a foreigner".

The friend and her family immediately contacted the Okinawa Police Station.

Around 10:45 p.m., the girl called the mother of her friend and said, "I have fled (from the foreigner)."

Police found her near the place where Hadnott is believed to have parked the car and put her under protective custody.

The girl remembered characteristics of the car. Police found Hadnott in his car parked in front of his house, and asked him to come to the police station on a voluntary basis.

They arrested him around 2:10 a.m. Monday.

Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima expressed anger over the alleged crime.

"This is a serious criminal act that tramples upon the human rights of a woman. In particular, given that the victim is a junior high school student, I can never forgive his act," Nakaima told reporters at the prefectural government office here.

The arrest will likely trigger strong protests against U.S. military forces among local governments and citizens' groups in the prefecture.

In 1995, after a 12-year-old elementary school girl was raped by three U.S. servicemen, anger against the U.S. military led to large-scale movements calling for the closure or scaling-down of U.S. bases in the prefecture.

In 1996, the United States agreed to return the site of the sprawling U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Ginowan to Japan. The two countries also agreed to relocate the functions of the air station.

Asked about his first feelings after hearing the news of Hadnott's arrest, Nakaima said, "I felt that what must not take place took place again."

According to prefectural police, Hadnott joined the U.S. Marine Corps in September 1996. After work i ng at the Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni in Yamaguchi Prefecture, as well as other places, he was transferred to Okinawa Prefecture in October 2006. He is now serving at the U.S. Marine Corps Camp Courtney in the city of Uruma.

The U.S.-Japan Status of Forces Agreement stipulates procedures on U.S. servicemen accused of committing crimes in Japan. According to the agreement, when the suspects are placed in the custody of the United States, the United States will continue to detain them until Japanese prosecutors indict them.

This time, however, Okinawa prefectural police arrested Hadnott, meaning that the suspect will remain in Japanese custody.

Akira Uehara, a senior official of the Okinawa prefectural government, and Morikazu Nakamura, who heads the office for the Okinawa prefectural board of education, visited the U.S. Consulate General in Urasoe on Monday afternoon and met Consul General Kevin Maher.

During the m eeting, the two asked Maher to make utmost efforts to prevent a recurrence and to urge U.S. military forces stationed in Okinawa Prefecture to announce measures to deal with the issue.

Uehara and Nakamura were also expected to meet the Okinawa Area Coordinator (OAC), the top officer of all the four branches of the U.S. military forces stationed in Okinawa Prefecture, on Tuesday afternoon.

In that meeting, they planned to make a protest and ask for measures to prevent recurrence.