TORII STATION, Okinawa — Parishioners from Yomitan Catholic Church are expected to hold a peace walk Saturday in front of Torii Station to show support for a Philippine woman who accused a U.S. soldier of rape in February.

The planned walk was prompted after Japanese prosecutors dropped charges last week against Sgt. Ronald Hopstock Jr., 25, of the 1st Battalion, 1st Air Defense Artillery Regiment, saying they lacked sufficient evidence to move forward with a trial.

The Army has said it will conduct its own investigation.

Father Rommel Cruz, who is organizing the walk, said the prosecutors’ actions were a disservice to the alleged victim, and that the walk is to push for the Army to carefully examine the incident.

"We’re not demonstrating against the U.S. base; we just want to show the public that the Filipino church community wants justice," Cruz said. "We want the military to look at this case and not use the Japanese judgment as their basis, but to start from zero and look into the case more thoroughly."

The woman, 21, told Japanese police she was raped by Hopstock at an Okinawa City hotel Feb. 18 after an encounter at a club. Police reports said the unidentified woman was working as a dancer under an entertainer’s visa. According to the reports, the woman was hospitalized for more than a week.

Hopstock has denied the claims and maintained that he paid the club to have sex with the woman. He remains restricted to Kadena Air Base and under military supervision.

Army spokesman Maj. James Crawford said the investigation is still in the beginning stages.

Army officials on Okinawa said they were unaware of the planned walk.

Crawford said the parishioners can conduct their walk as long as their actions don’t put servicemembers and their families in jeopardy.

"That’s their right," he said.

Cruz said at least 150 people are expected to participate in Saturday’s walk, which will start at the Yomitan Starbucks coffee shop. The group will also hold a public prayer, he said.

Cruz said the church also plans to caravan near a Japanese police station outside Gate 2 of Kadena Air Base at a later date.

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now