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OKINAWA CITY, Okinawa — A 27-year-old airman is in Okinawa police custody, accused of molesting an elementary school girl near Kadena Air Base’s Gate Two on Sunday morning.

The reported action sparked strong condemnation from both Japanese and U.S. military leaders.

Police said Staff Sgt. Armando Valdez lured the girl and her friend from a street in Okinawa City’s Chuo District into a parking lot at about 8:25 a.m., forced the girl to roll up her T-shirt, then touched her breast.

Valdez then photographed the girl with his cell phone camera, said a spokesman for the Okinawa Prefectural Police in Okinawa City.

The girl then ran to a nearby church while her friend fled and called for help.

Police officers found Valdez accosting a woman on a street near the parking lot at about 11 a.m., the police spokesman said.

Valdez, assigned to the 18th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Kadena Air Base, admitted photographing the girl but said he did not touch her, police said.

A Breathalyzer test detected five times more than the legal limit of 0.1 milligrams of alcohol on his breath, police said.

Police referred the molestation case to the Naha Public Prosecutor’s Office on Monday.

The incident drew sharp criticism of the U.S. military’s discipline from Okinawa Gov. Keiichi Inamine.

The prefectural government has demanded repeatedly that the military tighten rules and educate servicemembers each time a violent incident occurs, Inamine said in a statement Sunday.

“This incident shows that the efforts being made by the military are not sufficient and that lessons from past experiences are not utilized,” he said. “I must question the discipline among the military members.” Inamine said the crime infringes on women’s human rights, “especially in this case where the victim is an elementary school girl, which is an absolutely unacceptable act and intolerable.”

In a statement Monday, Brig. Gen. Jan-Marc Jouas, 18th Wing commander, condemned such actions and pledged to cooperate with Okinawan police.

“The type of behavior alleged is completely unacceptable,” said Jouas. “We will assist local authorities as much as possible. We sincerely regret the anxiety this incident has caused the local community.”

Okinawa City Mayor Masakazu Nakasone met with Jouas on base at 9:30 a.m. Monday to deliver a protest petition.

“We will take the strongest measures to ensure this incident is brought to every base member’s attention and not allow it to happen again,” Jouas said, according to an Air Force spokesman at the meeting.

Jouas also met with the Okinawa City Board of Education chairman and phoned Kadena Town Mayor Tokujitsu Miyagi to express regrets. He met with Okinawan Prefectural Government representatives at 2:15 p.m. and reiterated those regrets, an Air Force spokesman said.

The airman’s alleged actions also drew criticism Monday from Japan’s national government. At a Tokyo news conference, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda said, “It is indeed deplorable. We are discussing the case closely with the U.S. government.”

All Kadena commanders were scheduled to hold “commander’s calls” with their airmen on Tuesday to discuss crimes committed by U.S. servicemembers on Okinawa during the past 10 years.

They also were expected to discuss Valdez’s case, an Air Force spokeswoman said.

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