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GI gets sympathetic judge in child assault conviction

Date Posted: 2005-11-24

An Air Force sergeant charged with indecent assault for touching a 10-year-old girl was convicted, but won’t see the inside of a jail cell.

Staff Sergeant Armando Valdez drew an 18-month jail term from Judge Nobuyuki Yokota in a Naha Courtroom, but then heard the judge suspend the sentence for four years. That means Valdez, if he remains clean from future offenses, will return to the U.S. a free man.

Valdez was convicted of touching the girl inappropriately, asking her to lift her shirt so he could take photographs with his cellular phone camera, and of trespassing. He had lured the girl into a parking area near a home in Okinawa City last July 3, and put his hand inside her pants as he took photographs. The judge lashed out at the airman, calling his crime “carried out to fulfill his twisted sexual desires. It was malicious.” Yokota said the crime caused Okinawans “great fear.”

The 28-year-old Valdez had asked for leniency, telling the court he wanted to begin a new life together with his Japanese girlfriend, who he said is already pregnant.

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