Japanese police turn over sailors' sexual assault case to prosecutors

From Stripes.com

Japanese police turn over sailors' sexual assault case to prosecutors

by: Stars and Stripes | .
Stars and Stripes | .
published: August 29, 2013

SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — Japanese police have forwarded the case against two USS Bonhomme Richard sailors accused of sexual assault to prosecutors, who will decide whether to indict them.

The sailors have been under investigation since shortly after the alleged assault of a Japanese female May 14 at an off-base residence in Sasebo. Navy officials said they have been cooperating in the investigation and that the sailors have been interviewed 18 times by Japanese police since May.

The sailors are in Navy custody in Sasebo but have not been charged with a crime, Navy officials said. However, Japanese police submitted documentation on Aug. 21 stating they believe the two may have violated Japanese law. Navy officials said if the sailors are indicted, custody might be transferred to Japan under the Status of Forces Agreement.

Japanese police and the prosecutor’s office declined to comment.

“At this time, these are only allegations, and the Navy continues to cooperate fully with Japanese authorities on this matter,” said Commander Naval Forces Japan spokesman Jon Nylander. “We take seriously all allegations of misconduct by sailors, Navy civilians and family members.”