The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

February 9, 2014

Documents reveal chaotic military sex-abuse record


The documents analyzed by the AP do not reveal whether certain commanders had a tendency to punish outside the courts-martial process. Names of the accusers, the accused and commanders are all deleted — for privacy, the military said.

When compared with broader statistics released annually by the Pentagon, the documents suggest that U.S. military personnel based in Japan are accused of sex crimes at roughly the same rate as their comrades around the world.

But bad behavior here by American sailors, Marines, airmen and soldiers can have intense repercussions in this conservative, insular country, an important U.S. ally. This is especially true on the island of Okinawa, home to barely 1 percent of Japan's population but about half of the roughly 50,000 U.S. forces based in the country.

Sex crimes against Okinawans have become major news stories, and added fury to protests against the U.S. military's presence on the island.

But the documents show that, as it is at U.S. bases everywhere, U.S. service members who commit sexual assaults are most likely to abuse their own comrades.

More than three dozen NCIS case summaries describe investigations that appeared to indicate a sex crime, but were resolved using lesser charges or simply dropped with little or no explanation.

Such is the case for an investigation that began in January 2008 against a Navy doctor who would go on to sexually abuse women in the military until his clinical privileges were suspended in 2009.

Airman Tina Wilson's name is redacted from the report, but she spoke up a day after she went to the health clinic at Naval Air Facility Atsugi, a U.S. base southwest of Tokyo, to have a dressing changed following surgery on her tailbone.

In Wilson's sworn statement to NCIS and other records, the doctor, Lt. Cmdr. Anthony L. Velasquez, walked over to look at the wound as a corpsman took care of the dressing. Then Velasquez announced that the results were in from a staph-infection test, and that he was going to check Wilson's lymph nodes.

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