173rd Airborne soldier charged with sexually assaulting teenage girl
VICENZA, Italy — A soldier with the 173rd Infantry Combat Brigade Team (Airborne) has been charged by Italian authorities with sexually assaulting a teenage girl, officials confirmed this week.
“We’re aware of the charges,” said Maj. Mike Weisman, a spokesman for the brigade. “We are participating fully with Italian authorities.”
The 21-year-old soldier accused of the crime, whose name was not released, was not in Italian custody and had been returned to duty status, Weisman said.
The local Italian newspaper, Vicenza Giornale, reported Dec. 30 that the Vicenza prosecutor was investigating the soldier on charges of kidnapping and sexual assault. According to the newspaper, the alleged crimes occurred in November.
The newspaper said that the girl had been out at a local disco near Caserme Ederle, headquarters of U.S. Army Garrison Vicenza, before, she said, she was accosted and assaulted in a secluded area.
The girl, 17, according to reports, is a third-country national, Weisman said. He declined to specify her nationality.
It was unclear what would happen with the case. The U.S. military usually requests jurisdiction in criminal cases involving servicemembers even when alleged crimes occur off-post. It is not always granted, however.
Italian courts have been subject to criticism in dealing with sexual assault. In one case, a top Italian court ruled in the 1990s that a woman wearing jeans could not have been raped and must have consented because jeans are too difficult to remove without assistance.