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Japanese prosecutor drops rape charges against Army sergeant

Date Posted: 2008-05-18

A 25-year-old Army sergeant is free after the Naha District Public Prosecutor’s Office, citing a lack of sufficient evidence to indict him on rape charges, dropped the case.
Sergeant Ronald Edward Hopstock Jr., had been under investigation for raping a Filipina woman in an Okinawa City hotel during the night between February 17th and 18th. The soldier, assigned to the 1st Battalion, 1st Air Defense Artillery Regiment, admitted having sex with the young woman, but said “she agreed to come to the hotel with me.” A hotel clerk who checked the couple in about 10 p.m. February 17th said “they looked like a normal couple.” Hopstock had contended he paid the club where the entertainer worked, in order to take her out. He said he paid the club in order to have sex with the woman, an arrangement the woman denied knowledge of.
The woman was found the following morning by the hotel clerk. After she was taken to a hospital for examination, Okinawa Prefecture Police arrested Hopstock on suspicion of assault and battery on the Filipina entertainer. Takafumi Sato, the deputy chief prosecutor, says his office didn’t have sufficient evidence to bring the GI to trial, saying “suspicion is not imperfect, because they went together to the hotel, and then they stayed there.” Sato noted the woman never complained about Hopstock. or his conduct, “so we think from these conditions, the case should be dropped.”
The Army isn’t so sure. A U.S. Army spokesman at Camp Zama in mainland Japan, Maj. James Crawford, says the Army will conduct its own investigation. “We have cooperated with Japanese authorities,” he said, “and our lawyers will review everything and allegations will be investigated in accordance with Army policies. If that investigation concludes there was wrongdoing, appropriate action will be takne.”
Hopstock, meanwhile, remains restricted to his duty station at Kadena Air Base. Crawford says Hopstock is being closely supervised by military officials.

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