Japanese prosecutors indict US Marine accused of punching elderly woman in face
Stars and Stripes November 28, 2023
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan — A Marine stationed at this base near Hiroshima has been indicted after allegedly punching an elderly Japanese woman in the face earlier this month.
Lance Cpl. Manuel Gomez, 21, a motor vehicle operator with Wing Support Squadron 71, was charged with bodily injury on Friday, a spokesman for the Yamaguchi District Public Prosecutors Office said by phone Monday.
Gomez pushed the 76-year-old woman from behind on a street in Iwakuni city around 4 a.m. Nov. 4, causing her to fall, the spokesman said. It’s customary in Japan for some government officials to speak to the media on condition of anonymity.
The Marine then punched the woman in the face several times, causing a compression fracture in her vertebrae and bruises to her face, the spokesman said.
Police arrested Gomez at the scene after a passerby called to report the incident, an Iwakuni Police spokesman said earlier this month. Officers said Gomez, who had been drinking, did not know the woman.
Gomez has denied the allegation, the police spokesman said.
“We take all allegations of misconduct seriously and are fully cooperating with the local authorities, who hold primary jurisdiction of this case,” MCAS Iwakuni spokesman Maj. Gerard Farao told Stars and Stripes by email Monday.
“The alleged actions are contrary to our values and we expect our service members to be upstanding members of the community,” he added.
An uptick in off-base incidents as spurred the Marine Corps to consider liberty policy changes, a city official who deals with base policy told Stars and Stripes on Nov. 21.
“It’s under review,” Farao said. “Changes are coming in these next few weeks, and we really can’t discuss it because we don’t know what the changes are yet.”