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CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Three Marines who were acquitted of charges that they participated in the rape of a Filipina last year in Subic Bay were flown back to their home base on Okinawa on Tuesday after the end of their trial in the Philippines.

The three — Lance Cpls. Keith Silkwood and Dominic Duplantis and Staff Sgt. Chad Carpentier — allegedly cheered on Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith, who was found guilty Monday of raping a 23-year-old woman in the back of a van during liberty in Subic Bay on Nov. 1, 2005.

A Marine spokesman said Smith’s liberty buddies, who were assigned to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit — part of the III Marine Expeditionary Force — at the time of incident “remain assigned to III MEF.”

“The Marine Corps is continuing to investigate the circumstances of the incident to determine if the Marines involved violated the Uniform Code of Military Justice,” said 2nd Lt. Brian Block in an e-mail response to a Stars and Stripes query. “Appropriate action will be taken based on the results of that investigation. The Marine Corps takes all incidents involving our servicemembers seriously.”

The three Marines could face charges, for instance, under Article 134 of the UCMJ, which covers “all disorders and neglects to the prejudice of good order and discipline in the armed forces, (and) all conduct of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces.”

Block said he could not speculate on when a decision will be made concerning any action that might be taken against the acquitted Marines.

Marine officials denied a Stripes request to talk to members of Smith’s unit regarding their response to the verdict and how the yearlong case affected unit morale.

“Our personnel are briefed on proper conduct while on liberty and expected to maintain high standards,” Block said. “As responsible guests of the Republic of the Philippines, we will continue to do everything possible to prevent incidents. … [The] Marine Corps does not tolerate sexual assault and has a comprehensive policy that reinforces a culture of prevention, response and accountability to ensure the safety, dignity and well-being of others,” he added. “Our leaders remain committed to maintaining an environment that rejects sexual assault and attitudes that promote such behaviors.”

He said the Marines would “continue to fully cooperate with the Philippine authorities in the next phases of these legal proceedings (involving Smith), in accordance with the Visiting Forces Agreement.”

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