HEIDELBERG, Germany — A Fort Hood, Texas, soldier wanted by the FBI on child-rape charges was in military custody this week after his arrest by German police.

The infantryman and federal fugitive was taken into custody Saturday after slapping a woman in a local bar.

Spc. Justin Ray Sparlin is being held in a military confinement facility, according to U.S. Army Europe officials. The facility is believed to be in Mannheim.

Sparlin, 28, is accused of sexually abusing a 12-year-old girl, according to an international warrant for his arrest.

He was arrested at about 3 a.m. Saturday outside a bar in Heidelberg’s Weststadt after security staff there called police.

“He attacked a young woman without reason,” said Harald Kurzer, Heidelberg police spokesman.

Kurzer said Sparlin slapped the woman, age 20 or 21, in the face.

“He didn’t tell us why,” Kurzer said.

The woman was unhurt, Kurzer said.

Security employees inside the bar, which Kurzer declined to name, held Sparlin until police arrived. Sparlin was so drunk, Kurzer said, he couldn’t blow into the machine designed to measure blood alcohol levels.

Sparlin told police he was a tourist and showed his U.S. passport, Kurzer said, but police found his military identification card in his pants.

Police ran a check and found an international warrant for Sparlin’s arrest from the Chicago FBI office. They called local military police to take custody of the AWOL soldier.

U.S. authorities say the alleged attack against the girl occurred while Sparlin was home on leave in Ottawa, Ill. Sparlin reportedly joined the Army in 2006, served in Iraq and was posted at Fort Hood.

Sparlin was charged Feb. 7 in LaSalle County, Ill., with “predatory criminal sexual assault in the alleged rape of a child under the age of 13,” Sgt. Dave Gualandri, an Ottawa police detective, told Stars and Stripes last month.

He fled to Chicago, about 50 miles to the southwest, the same day, Gualandri said.

The Chicago Tribune reported that Sparlin fled the same day as the alleged attack.

Authorities say that after he eluded police in Chicago, he boarded a Feb. 8 flight from O’Hare International Airport to Rome. When he arrived in Germany isn’t clear.

U.S. Army Europe officials referred questions about Sparlin to Fort Hood or the Department of the Army, but said USAREUR is cooperating in the investigation.

USAREUR officials said Sparlin will appear before a military magistrate within a week to determine his custody status.

author picture
Nancy is an Italy-based reporter for Stars and Stripes who writes about military health, legal and social issues. An upstate New York native who served three years in the U.S. Army before graduating from the University of Arizona, she previously worked at The Anchorage Daily News and The Seattle Times. Over her nearly 40-year journalism career she’s won several regional and national awards for her stories and was part of a newsroom-wide team at the Anchorage Daily News that was awarded the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.

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