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A duty officer aboard the USS Curtis Wilbur denied Japanese news reports Wednesday night that some 300 sailors attached to the guided missile destroyer were under a midnight curfew in the wake of local police accusations that a 25-year-old crew member fondled a Japanese woman.

Kanagawa prefectural police arrested Petty Officer 2nd Class Noah Henson Justice early Sunday morning after receiving reports he fondled a 21-year-old Japanese woman as he passed her inside a Yokosuka city bar. Justice was released at about 12:40 a.m. Wednesday, Japanese news media reported.

In a written statement to Stars and Stripes late Wednesday night, Cmdr. John T. Lauer, the Curtis Wilbur’s commanding officer, said his “foremost concern” is that the Japanese woman “is all right. My crew and I also want to help authorities every way we can to ensure a thorough and honest investigation is conducted.”

Lauer’s statement did not address Japanese news reports that a so-called “Cinderella liberty” had been imposed on the crew of the 7th Fleet ship, which operates out of Yokosuka Naval Base.

The Wednesday night duty officer, who asked not to be named, said no crew curfew exists beyond the scope of the 7th Fleet’s Exceptional Sailor Program regulations in effect on a regular basis. Under the program, liberty hours are determined by rank, conduct and job performance.

The 7th Fleet public affairs office did not respond Tuesday and Wednesday to requests for further comment on the weekend incident.

Japanese news reports also stated that the U.S. Staff Judge Advocate’s Office submitted a written request that a U.S. Navy representative and translator be present during all investigative activity while Justice remained in custody. Both nations recently agreed to change their joint Status of Forces Agreement to allow such representation. However, the news reports stated, the request became moot when Japanese police released the sailor.

— Hana Kusumoto contributed to this report.


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