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Communities angry as airman charged with child molestation

Date Posted: 2005-07-09

A Kadena airman is in Okinawan police custody, charged with molesting a young girl near the sprawling airbase.

The enlisted man, Sergeant Armando Valdez, stands accused of forcing a 10-year-old Okinawa City girl to lift her T-shirt and of touching her breast. The incident occurred in the Chuo District of Okinawa City, not far from Gate Two.

“This American asked me to tuck my tee shirt up,” the youngster told police. “I had to do it because if I didn’t, I though he could kill me. I felt so.” She then told police “after I tucked up the shirt, he touched my chest, and took a picture”

The 27-year-old airman denies the allegation, admitting he did take the girl’s picture with his cell phone camera, but says he never touched her. Police say Valdez approached the victim and her eight-year-old friend and made hand gestures for her to raise her shirt. While he was doing it, police say, the second elementary school child ran to her nearby home and told her mother.

The victim, meanwhile, escaped and ran to a nearby church, where police were called. Police arriving at the scene saw a Caucasian male about 150 meters from the site. They say he was talking to a woman when they approached him.

Valdez met the victim’s description of her molester, and police asked for cooperation as they arrested him.

Okinawa Prefecture Governor Keiichi Inamine sent a protest letter to the Air Force, and the Parent Teacher Association chairman denounced the incident, saying “we will never forgive the guy. The girl might get mental shock and damage, and we are worried about that.”

Inamine has repeatedly demanded the military exercise tighter discipline over its troops, telling authorities to control them better when they leave the bases. The Air Base commander, Brig. Gen. Jan-Marc Jouas, condemned Valdez’ actions and promised to cooperate fully with Okinawa authorities.

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