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Prosecutors step away from charging American

Date Posted: 2007-06-14

Japanese police arrested an American man after his stepson was found dead in Uruma City in April, but prosecutors have decided not to charge him.

Robert Deleon was apprehended in the aftermath of his eight-year-old stepson’s death. Medical authorities had ruled the boy died of injuries sustained in probable beatings, but Deleon steadfastly denied any wrongdoing.

The Naha District Prosecutor’s Office, in releasing Deleon after 20 days detention, said “Robert is denying the charge, and says ‘I didn’t beat him’.” The Prosecutor’s Office says it will continue its investigation, and make a decision in the near future about what it will do with him. For the moment, prosecutors say they don’t have any evidence, partly because the man’s wife and 10-year-old daughter went to the United States after her son’s death. The boy’s mother is in the U.S. Air Force, and prosecutors say it was difficult for them to investigate without talking to her.

Police, however, say they talked to the woman, and while noting “Yes, my husband was giving very strict education to the boy,” he didn’t beat him. The daughter also told police “I never saw my stepfather beating my brother.”

The case drew island-wide attention after an Uruma City woman stepped forward following the death, telling police she had seen the young boy a few months earlier, barefoot in the winter weather. He told her he was running away form home because “my stepfather beat me. He doesn’t like me.” The woman, who lived in the neighborhood, took the boy to a department store to buy some warm clothes for him, but the boy refused, telling her “No, no. I can’t wear the clothes. My stepfather will beat me again, so I’m alright without clothes.”

At thee department store, Japanese police were called, but they said they could not be involved. Instead, they called U.S. Military Police, who asked the boy “Did your stepfather beat you?” When the boy told them “no, no. I just fell down,” police took him home and did nothing further.

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