Hadnott pleads guilty to sex assault on teen
Stars and Stripes May 18, 2008
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Marine Staff Sgt. Tyrone L. Hadnott will spend the next few years behind bars for molesting a 14-year-old Okinawa girl in February.
In a courtroom packed with a pool of Japanese reporters and representatives of the Okinawa prefectural government, Hadnott was sentenced by a military judge Friday to 48 months of confinement — with 12 months suspended — and a dishonorable discharge. The case attracted international attention and was one of several incidents that led to strict liberty restrictions on everyone affiliated with the military on Okinawa.
Under the terms of a pretrial agreement, Hadnott pleaded guilty to one count, admitting he fondled a 14-year-old girl he picked up on his motorcycle outside an ice cream parlor in Okinawa City on Feb. 10.
Charges of rape, adultery, kidnapping through luring, and making a false official statement were withdrawn and the sentence was limited under the agreement to 36 months. The remaining 12 months of the sentence were suspended. He also will have to register as a sex offender when he is released from prison.
Hadnott, 38, was demoted to E-1 and all his pay and allowances were suspended — except for $1,300 a month to be sent to support his 3-year-old daughter for six months. He faced a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.
Hadnott, from Chicago, has been confined since Japanese police arrested him Feb. 11. He was released to military custody Feb. 28 when Japanese prosecutors chose not to indict him after the girl withdrew her criminal complaint, citing a desire for privacy.
During the half-day court-martial, Hadnott admitted he suspected the girl was underage when he gave her a ride to his off-base home, but he never pressed her to tell her age. He admitted the girl attempted to flee when he tried to kiss her, but he persuaded her to let him give her a ride home.
Instead, they drove in his van to a seaside park in Chatan, where he said he placed his hand between her pants and underwear.
"I’m guilty because I did not find out the victim’s age before I touched her," Hadnott told the judge, Lt. Col. David M. Oliver.
"I touched her in a sexual manner through her clothes, sir. I had a strong suspicion that she was under 16," he added.
Later, in an unsworn statement, Hadnott, a radio chief with Communications Company, Headquarters Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, at Camp Courtney, said the incident ruined his already rocky marriage. His Japanese wife had moved out of their home before the incident.
"Now she’s disgraced, she’s embarrassed," he said. "She told me that I don’t have a family no more and I can never see my daughter again."
Hadnott said he had no excuse for his actions that night. Standing before the judge while his mother sobbed softly on a bench behind him, he apologized to the victim, his own family, the Marine Corps and the United States.
"I never wanted to be the person that everyone hated," he said. "I have no words to express for how sorry I am for what I have done. I’d rather die than dishonor my country and the Corps."
He paused for a moment, the handwritten statement shaking slightly in his hands.
"I sit in my cell and stare at the toilet and see my career going down the drain," he said.
Hadnott has nearly 18 years of combined service in the Army and Marine Corps.
The prosecutor, Maj. Robert G. Palmer, asked for a sentence of eight years, arguing that Hadnott should be punished severely because the evidence showed a "concerted, determined effort for the accused to have sex with a 14-year-old girl."
"It’s reprehensible," Palmer said. "Children are supposed to be protected by adults. They are not sexual objects — period."
Added Palmer: "Marines are here on this island to protect the Japanese people. Not to seduce their children."
Hadnott’s defense attorney, Lt. Col. David Jones, asked for a nine-month sentence. He pointed out that a military psychiatrist examined Hadnott and found no evidence of pedophilia.
"He’s been castigated and condemned in the media and for the rest of his life anyone can go on the Web and see his name and read that he had raped a child," Jones said. "But what this case is not about is rape — nor kidnapping. What this case is about is he put his hands down her pants, and that’s it."
The only witness called to testify was Hadnott’s mother, a teacher, who said she gave birth to Hadnott when she was just 17 and unmarried. She said her son grew up without a strong father figure and had a learning disability. He was also immature, she said.
"Many times, he acts like he’s only 19 or 20 years old," she said.
She found out about her son’s arrest when she read a story in the Washington Post on Feb. 11.
"I can never shed enough tears for the victim, Japan and the United States," she said, wiping tears from her eyes.