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Charges dropped, but Yokosuka sailor still under investigation

YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — A USS George Washington sailor is still under investigation by Japanese prosecutors even though they twice have dropped charges against him for his involvement in a January incident.

Petty Officer 3rd Class John Riley Canfield, 23, was arrested by Kanagawa police for allegedly assaulting a 24-year-old Japanese woman on Jan. 21, but prosecutors didn’t press charges. Canfield was then arrested later the same day for hitting a 28-year-old Japanese man during the same incident. Prosecutors again declined to press charges.

However, they are still looking into claims made by three other people involved in the incident, Navy officials said Monday. Details regarding what happened to the three others were unavailable at press time.

“The other three cases … are still being reviewed by the Japanese prosecutor’s office,” according to a statement issued by the USS George Washington. “The U.S. Navy continues to fully cooperate and support the Japanese authorities as they complete their investigation.”

On Jan. 22, police acknowledged there had been an incident involving the 24-year-old woman, but had pursued charges against Canfield only for allegedly punching the man.

Police re-arrested Canfield in early February and charged him with assaulting the woman. Police said Canfield registered a blood-alcohol content of 0.12 after administering a breath test following the incident.

A spokeswoman from the Yokohama District Public Prosecutors Office declined to discuss why the latest charges involving the woman were dropped.

Canfield was released from Japanese custody after the statutory limit on his detention expired Friday, police said.

He is now under Navy custody but will remain available to Japanese authorities, Navy officials said Monday. No further charges have been filed against Canfield at this time, Navy officials added.

The latest decision is at least the fourth case involving a U.S. sailor where charges were not pursued following arrests in Kanagawa Prefecture.

Prosecutors dropped two trespassing cases against sailors in January.

Another sailor was fined 300,000 yen ($3,209) by a Yokosuka court on Feb. 19 for groping two women, though he was never formally arrested by police.

Incidents involving U.S. servicemembers in Japan came under added political and Japanese media scrutiny following allegations of rape by two Texas-based sailors in Okinawa on Oct. 16. The trial of the two accused sailors, Seaman Christopher Browning and Petty Officer 3rd Class Skyler Dozierwalker, is set to begin Tuesday in Okinawa court.

Stars and Stripes reporter Hana Kusumoto contributed to this report.

Slavin.erik@stripes.com

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