24 year old Christopher Browning and 23 year old Skyler Dozierwalker, the two U.S. sailors arrested for raping a young Japanese woman in Okinawa in mid-October, were given jail sentences of 10 and nine years, respectively, by the Naha District Court on Friday. The two Americans plead guilty earlier this week to the crimes, which resulted in outrage among Okinawa locals who have long protested against the frequent crimes involving military personnel.
While there has long been tensions in Okinawa over anti-U.S. military sentiment, caused by a number of crimes and sexual assaults in the past, including a 1995 incident where a 12 year old girl was abducted and raped by three servicemen. The October 16th rape near the Kadena Air Base reignited the issue, eventually leading to the enforcement of a curfew for all U.S. forces in Japan, and strict bans on alcohol for those in Okinawa, both of which, unfortunately, have been broken numerous times since November.
According to details released during the trail, Browning and Dozierwalker grabbed the young Japanese woman at her apartment door after she ignored them when they tried talking to her while walking home during the early morning hours. Covering her mouth, the pair took her to a nearby parking lot where they choked and raped her, then stole 7,000 yen (approx. $87) from her purse and left. The crime was captured by security cameras and the footage was analyzed during the trail. Dozierwalker testified that he “felt like a monster” while listening to the details of the rape.
Prosecutors were seeking prison terms of 12 years for Browning and 10 years for Dozierwalker, arguing that they had “indulged their lust,” and “committed acts of “humiliation and cruelty against the victim.” Both sailors expressed their remorse and willingness to accept responsibility, while at one point Dozierwalker even testified that he knew what sexual abuse was like as he had been molested when he was 8. According to Stars & Stripes, he also testified to the court that he was responsible for the rape, and was sorry for “leading Browning down the wrong path.” Browning is said to have wept into his own hands, while during closing arguments he gave personal apologies to not only the victim, but the Japanese public and U.S. military as well.[via AFP]