MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — Senior Airman Brian Carroll lost a friend, ruined his reputation and barely hung on to his military career.

Carroll, a member of the 35th Maintenance Squadron, was convicted of indecent assault in a court-martial here Wednesday after pleading guilty to the crime.

Col. Steven A. Hatfield, chief military judge for the Pacific Circuit, sentenced Carroll to reduction in rank to E-1, six months’ confinement and forfeiture of $500 a month for six months.

Carroll also will have to register as a sex offender.

The case was the second indecent assault court-martial at Misawa in less than a month. Military lawyers have said the number of alleged sexual assaults under investigation at Misawa is increasing.

Carroll’s day in court stemmed from a night of drinking that ended badly — for him and the wife of his friend and coworker. On Oct. 28, Carroll was partying with friends at his on-base tower apartment.

“I had as many as 17 drinks,” Carroll told the judge.

After the party disbanded, he went downstairs to his friend’s apartment and smoked with him on the balcony, according to court testimony Wednesday. The friend — a senior airman in the maintenance squadron — had been at the party.

According to the case’s lead trial counsel, Capt. Ryan Hendricks of Yokota Air Base, Japan, Carroll left his buddy, walked down the hallway and opened the door to the master bedroom, crawling into bed with the other airman’s wife.

He began touching the woman inappropriately. When she realized it wasn’t her husband, the woman — who was sober — turned the light on and asked Carroll what he was doing, Hendricks said in an interview after the hearing.

“His only response, as he exited the apartment, was he said ‘This isn’t my house,’” Hendricks said.

Carroll stated in court that he was confused as to his whereabouts and thought he was at home. While he said he remembered some of the fondling he was accused of, he couldn’t recall it all.

“I don’t remember what was particularly going on in my head at the moment,” he told Hatfield, though no doubt “it was a clumsy attempt at sex,” he said.

The victim tearfully testified about how she’s suffered emotionally since the assault. She said she drinks more alcohol, has difficulty sleeping and doesn’t feel safe in her own home.

She’s known Carroll since November 2004; he was her husband’s sponsor when the couple moved to Misawa, she said.

Carroll’s attorney, Capt. Jonathan Wasden, Misawa area defense counsel, asked the judge to spare his client a bad-conduct discharge.

“He’s already looking at a stigma far worse,” he said, referring to sex offender registration. “The perfect storm of events that led up to this … it’s not likely to happen again.”

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.

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