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Kadena servicemembers Article 32 begins with revelations

By DAVID ALLEN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: October 4, 2008

TORII STATION, Okinawa — The close presence of Army Spc. Ronald Hopstock Jr. was almost too much for the young Filipina to bear.

In a trembling voice, the 22-year-old woman looked at Hopstock, seated with his two attorneys about six feet away, and loudly sobbed, "I cannot forget that he hurt me!"

She was asked which of the three men at the defense table was the person who raped her in an Okinawa City hotel Feb. 17.

"Number one!" she yelled, pointing at Hopstock.

The emotional scene took place Thursday at Torii Station, where an Article 32 hearing commenced on charges of rape and disobeying an order involving the Feb. 17 incident and unrelated charges of procuring a prostitute and sodomy. The Article 32, similar to a preliminary hearing in civilian courts, is scheduled to last four days.

The woman, identified publicly only as Hazel, said she came to Okinawa from the Philippines three days before the incident to work as a dancer at an Okinawa City club called the Mermaid.

The business has since been placed off limits to servicemembers.

Hopstock told Okinawa police that he had paid a "bar fine" at the club so he could take Hazel out and expected to have sex with her. Hazel said sex was never offered.

The day’s testimony turned up two surprises.

Hazel claimed in an interview with Stars and Stripes in June that she signed on with an agency to become a dancer on Okinawa only because her sister needed money to pay for surgery. But she revealed under questioning by Army Capt. Ernesto Galpasin, one of Hopstock’s two defense attorneys, that she had previously worked for two months as a hostess in a karaoke bar in Hong Kong.

The second bombshell was testimony from a doctor at the U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa that Hazel is genetically male.

Testifying by telephone, Cmdr. Elizabeth Tipton said she examined Hazel in August and found the young woman had "androgen insensitivity syndrome." She said Hazel had the outward appearance of a woman, except she had no cervix.

"She is someone who is chromosomally a male," Tipton said. However, the condition made her resistant to testosterone and she developed female genitalia.

It was unclear from the first day’s testimony whether Hazel’s physical condition would be an issue. Neither side brought the matter up again during the hearing, and Hazel was not asked about it.

Hazel testified that she willingly went to the New Century Hotel with Hopstock to join co-workers who had rented a room with a group of Marines. But she was told the room was full and she instead agreed to go to another room alone with Hopstock.

She said she had no choice because she did not know her way to the home where the girls from the club lived and they had told her to meet them in the lobby at 6 a.m.

Inside the room, she said, she told Hopstock that she was tired and wanted to go to sleep. She lay on the bed fully clothed and Hopstock took off his pants and polo shirt and sat beside her and kissed her, she said.

"I told him to stop, that I wanted to sleep," Hazel said. Hopstock stopped and she went to sleep.

But she awoke startled to the sensation of Hopstock pulling down her pants and forcing himself on her, she said, breaking into sobs again.

"I was really scared and felt a lot of pain," she said.

She said Hopstock stopped when he saw her bleeding profusely.

Hours later she was taken to a local hospital, where a doctor told her she nearly died from a loss of blood, according to testimony.

During questioning by the Article 32 officer, Lt. Col. Seth Sherwood, Hazel said her understanding of the phrase "bar fine" was that a "customer pays to take you out to eat and hang out."

She said she was not aware of what bar fines were until she came to Okinawa and never danced with or dated customers at the Hong Kong karaoke bar.

Besides the rape charge, Hopstock, of 1st Battalion, 1st Air Artillery Regiment on Kadena Air Base, is also charged with disobeying a direct order Feb. 17 by not having a "liberty buddy" with him when he was off base. He is also charged with frequently paying a prostitute for sex from April 2007 to January 2008.


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