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Rape case dropped; soldier convicted on other charges

Date Posted: 2009-02-26

The Army’s rape case against Specialist Ronald Hopstock has been dropped, but the soldier’s still in plenty of hot water after pleading guilty to three charges unrelated to the February 2008 rape allegation.

Hopstock was court martialed on charges he raped a Filipino bar worker last February, after taking her from a bar to an Okinawa City hotel. The 25-year-old soldier steadfastly denied the rape charges, insisting sex was consentual, leading Japanese officials to dismiss the charges last May. Okinawa prosecutors said there was a lack of evidence. The Army picked up the case last summer, ultimately deciding to take the case to courts martial.

The court found, though, that “there was a lack of preponderance of evidence,” according to Major James Crawford, an Army public affairs officer. He said “the government went through a long process of investigation, and at the end had to review everything and make a decision.” The dancer, identified only as Hazel, said she was stunned and confused by the Army court’s decision to drop the charges.

The 1st Battalion, 1st Air Defense Artillery Regiment soldier Tuesday pleaded guilty to three charges totally separate from the rape case, after which the Army judge, Colonel Donna Wright, dismissed the rape allegations for lack of evidence. Hopstock was sentenced to eight months confinement, reduction in rank to the lowest E-1 grade, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and a bad conduct discharge for his disobeying a directive that required him to be accompanied by another soldier whenever off base, and for soliciting a prostitute for sex on at least 20 occasions between April 2007 and January 2008.

A pretrial agreement limits the confinement time to six months, and Hopstock’s attorneys have asked the bad conduct discharge be dropped. The judge, Army Colonel Donna Wright, has endorsed the recommendation that discharge be suspended. The final decision on the decision rests with Colonel James Woodard, the commander of the Army’s 10th Support Group at Torii Station.

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