NAHA, Okinawa — Okinawans had mixed reactions to Friday’s court-martial and sentencing of Marine Staff Sgt. Tyrone Hadnott, who was given 48 months of confinement and a dishonorable discharge for molesting a 14-year-old Okinawa girl in February.

"I do not quite get it," said Shigeko Urasaki, a representative of an Okinawa women’s advocacy group, Women’s Net. "The sentence is too light for the vicious nature of the crime. What were the extenuating circumstances for his behavior?"

There were none, she said, adding that she regretted Hadnott was not tried under Japanese law. Japanese prosecutors decided to drop the case after the 14-year-old girl who accused Hadnott of raping her withdrew her complaint.

The girl said she did not want any more publicity.

Two men questioned in downtown Naha agreed the sentence seemed too light.

"He was lucky that the girl withdrew the complaint," said Kenji Kawasumi, 33, a Web designer from Tokyo. "Had he not been a servicemember, there would not have been so much media coverage, and the girl would not have changed her mind."

Said his friend, Akitoshi Funo, 38, owner of a business equipment sales company in Naha: "A three-year jail term is the same as the punishment for gambling in Japan. Is that all? It is almost like treating the seriousness of the crime as little more than being caught gambling."

A woman in her mid-40s in Ginowan, however, said she had mixed feelings about whether the sentence was too light.

"It’s hard to say, because at first she was not taken against her will," said the woman, who identified herself only by her last name of Matsumoto. "My biggest concern is for Okinawa’s society, where many underage children hang around late at night.

"Anyhow, it was the fault of the man, an adult. I cannot say if the sentence is long enough or not. All I want is for him to serve his prison term and pay for the crime."

Related articles:

Hadnott pleads guilty to sex assault on teen

Hadnott timeline: Four months of uneasiness

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