SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — A petty officer accused of raping a 19-year-old woman Saturday in Sasebo remained in Japanese police custody Monday, officials said.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Markies Steven Bates, 24, a postal clerk assigned to Fleet Activities Sasebo, is accused of forcing the woman into his car at about midnight and attacking her, an Ainoura police spokesman said.

Ainoura police sent the case to the Nagasaki Prefecture prosecutor’s office Sunday, the formal process for charging a suspect in Japan.

Police said Bates did not know the woman, who was walking home through a parking lot.

The woman asked a Japanese person for help and that person contacted police. The victim later recalled some of the vehicle’s license plate number to police, who traced the plate to Bates, police said.

Police went to Bates’ off-base residence and asked him to come in for questioning and later arrested him at about 4:30 a.m. Saturday.

“Of course we at Fleet Activities Sasebo deeply regret the incident,” said base spokesman Charles Howard. He added that base officials are cooperating with local police, who have jurisdiction over the case.

Bates told police he was in the area and called out to the woman, but he was vague about what happened next, a police spokesman said.

Under the status of forces agreement, servicemembers accused of heinous crimes in Japan can be held in Japanese custody until their arraignment.

Greg Tyler contributed to this report.

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Hana Kusumoto is a reporter/translator who has been covering local authorities in Japan since 2002. She was born in Nagoya, Japan, and lived in Australia and Illinois growing up. She holds a journalism degree from Boston University and previously worked for the Christian Science Monitor’s Tokyo bureau.

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