Rape charges against soldier dropped
Stars and Stripes May 18, 2008
NAHA, Okinawa — Charges were dropped late Thursday against a soldier accused of raping a 21-year-old Philippine woman in February.
The Naha District Public Prosecutor’s Office deputy chief Takafumi Sato said Friday his office did not have sufficient evidence to indict Sgt. Ronald Edward Hopstock Jr., 25, of the 1st Battalion, 1st Air Defense Artillery Regiment.
"Three points at issue were the place where the alleged act took place, the relation of the two individuals and the circumstances before and after the alleged event," Sato said.
The Army will conduct its own investigation, said Maj. James Crawford, a U.S. Army spokesman at Camp Zama, Japan.
The woman accused Hopstock of raping her at an Okinawa City hotel Feb. 18 after the pair met a club where she was a dancer.
Hopstock had denied the allegations, saying he paid the club to have sex with the woman. The woman, in Japan under an entertainer’s visa, had said she was unaware of the arrangement and did not receive money.
According to police, the woman was hospitalized for more than a week and received outpatient treatment for two weeks. At the time of the incident, the woman had been in Japan only three days, police reports said.
Hopstock remains restricted to Kadena Air Base and is closely supervised by officials, Crawford said.
He would not speculate on what violations of military law Hopstock could be charged under. However, in similar cases servicemembers have been charged with soliciting sex.
"We’ve cooperated with Japanese authorities and at this point our lawyers will review everything and the allegations will be investigated in accordance with the Army," Crawford said. "If the investigation concludes that wrongdoing has occurred, appropriate action will be taken."
Victims rights advocates were disappointed.
"It’s hard to believe," said Butch Pongos, who represents Japan for the Asia-Pacific chapter of the International Alliance of Filipino Migrant Organizations. The chapter, based in Hong Kong, has about 2,500 members.
"The victim was hospitalized," he said. "Our position is to pursue the case to render justice for the victim."
Shigeko Urasaki of Okinawa Women’s Net agreed.
"Not enough evidence? It is really hard for me to understand," Urasaki said.
She said that Japan’s laws concerning sex crimes are not made to protect the victims.
"Take any rape trial, it is often the victim woman who becomes the target of criticism and she is the one who needs to prove that it is not her fault," she said.
Stars and Stripes reporter David Allen contributed to this story.