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Navy doctor arrested in U.S. for failing to register as a sex offender

By ERIK SLAVIN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: August 5, 2010

YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — A Navy doctor convicted of sex crimes against his patients was arrested in Washington state earlier this week for failing to register as a sex offender, but it’s not clear if he will be prosecuted.

Lt. Cmdr. Anthony L. Velasquez, 48, was arrested by Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office deputies and released after posting bail around midnight Tuesday, according to the sheriff’s website and Velasquez’s defense attorney, Thomas Weaver.

Velasquez was supposed to appear in court Tuesday, but the hearing was canceled after Kitsap prosecutors declined to proceed with charges, Weaver said.

“At this point, they’re not filing charges, though if there is further investigation, that may change,” said Weaver, whose office is in Bremerton, Wash., near Naval Base Kitsap.

Velasquez is transitioning out of the Navy in Washington and intends to reside in Kentucky. He arrived at Kitsap from Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan, about a month ago, Navy officials said.

Prosecutor Andy Anderson said it’s not yet clear whether Velasquez is required to register as a sex offender in Washington following his court-ordered dismissal from the Navy, noting that military laws regarding sexual offenses are different than state laws.

“It’s a tricky statute,” Anderson said. “The information that law enforcement had at that time, they believed he probably he was in violation. Police officers arrest people on the street, that doesn’t necessarily mean we charge everyone the police arrest, because presumably the prosecutors know a little bit more about the legal standards than the officers do.”

On May 26, Velasquez pleaded guilty at a Yokosuka Naval Base court-martial to two counts of wrongful sexual contact and two counts of conduct unbecoming an officer.

In exchange for those guilty pleas, under the terms of a pretrial plea agreement negotiated between the Judge Advocate General’s Office in Yokosuka and the defense, prosecutors dropped 29 other counts of sexual misconduct and related charges leveled against Velasquez by his former patients at Atsugi and Camp Arifjan, Kuwait.

The pretrial agreement set aside military judge Cmdr. David Berger’s sentence of two years in prison, a $28,000 fine and forfeiture of all pay and allowances. Instead, Velasquez spent seven days in the Yokosuka brig, paid nothing and was ordered dismissed from the Navy.

However, the pretrial agreement was contingent on Velasquez registering as a sex offender and could be vacated if Velasquez commits another crime within one year, court officials said following the verdict. Failing to register as a sex offender in Washington is considered a felony, according to state law.

Anderson said his office expects to get a copy of Velasquez’ plea agreement by early next week.

On Thursday, Commander Naval Forces Japan legal officials said that vacating a plea deal “depended on many factors” and referred further comment to Navy Region Legal Service Office Northwest and the Judge Advocate General’s Office in Washington D.C.

Velasquez’s court case record was reviewed and accepted July 23 by the convening authority, CNFJ commander Rear Adm. Richard Wren, spokesman Jon Nylander said Thursday.

slavine@pstripes.osd.mil

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