February 9, 2014
The majority of the US military personnel stationed in Japan who were charged with serious sexual violations escaped prison and received light punishments, according to a new report.
US military commanders in Japan increasingly are resolving sexual assault cases through nonjudicial punishment rather than courts-martial, resulting in light punishments, the Associated Press has found.
The AP obtained more than 1,000 documents of sex-crime cases involving US military personnel stationed in Japan, following Freedom of Information Act requests filed with the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.
The documents, filed between 2005 and early 2013, show that out of 473 Marines and Navy sailors accused of sex offenses, 179 were given a small punishment, and only 68 went to prison.
The Air Force was the most lenient as 21 sexual offenders were punished with nothing more than a letter of reprimand.
Of more than 620 serious sex-crime allegations against US military personnel in Japan, at least 323 of the alleged victims also were in the military. Civilians were the accusers in 94 cases, but in nearly 200 cases the alleged victim’s status was unclear.
Losing confidence in the US justice system, victims often refused to cooperate with investigators.
On Friday, US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said there is no “one simple answer” to the ethical crisis gripping the US military and vowed to get to the bottom of a trend of embarrassing disclosures.
All service branches of the US military have been dealing with a series of scandals including cases of cheating, alcohol abuse, gambling, drugs use, and sexual misconduct which surfaced over the past months.