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Japanese police on Friday sent the case of a Camp Zama civilian employee accused of sexual assault to the Yokohama District Prosecutor’s Office in Sagamihara.

Cary Dean Dugan, 43, who works for U.S. Army Medical Department Activity-Japan, was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of sexually assaulting a 38-year-old Japanese female co-worker in December 2004, a Zama City police spokesman said.

Dugan volunteered to be questioned by Zama police, the spokesman added. He denied the allegations but they decided to take him into custody.

Ed Roper, a U.S. Army Garrison Japan spokesman at Camp Zama, confirmed the arrest Friday and said the case was slow to surface because the alleged victim didn’t immediately come forward.

It didn’t emerge until another medical unit worker overheard an office conversation and informed supervisors.

“The command thought it may be sexual harassment,” Roper said. “In that case, they do an internal investigation.”

He said that revealed enough evidence to warrant an inquiry by Army Criminal Investigation Command agents, who later notified Japanese police.

On the day of the incident, Dugan allegedly hugged the woman from behind in his office and touched her breasts, the Zama City police spokesman said.

She spoke with base officials about the incident in August and an investigation was launched.

“We regret that the incident happened,” Roper said. “[But] it shows we were the ones who brought it to the attention of Japanese police. We take the prevention of sexual harassment seriously.

“We do annual, mandatory training. The fact that a third person brought it to the attention of the command shows that our prevention-of-sexual-harassment training is working.

“But it’s regrettable that this person is accused of conducting such acts. … We’ve been cooperating with the Japanese police and we’ll continue to do so.”

Army investigators reported the incident to Zama City authorities on Nov. 11, the Japanese police spokesman said.

Under the status of forces agreement, Japanese authorities have jurisdiction over U.S. civilian workers suspected of criminal activity since they can’t be tried under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

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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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