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SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — A USS Essex petty officer charged with indecent assault resulting in bodily injury pleaded guilty Wednesday during his first appearance in Nagasaki District Court.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Alfred Thomas O’Donnell, 21, is accused of punching a 23-year-old Japanese woman around 6:45 p.m. Oct. 5 just beyond the boundaries of the base’s Nimitz Park.

He also allegedly climbed on top of the woman, trying to remove her clothes, according to the indictment.

“He admitted it all,” defense attorney Hitoshi Tokukatsu told Stars and Stripes by phone after the court proceedings.

When questioned in court, O’Donnell said he paid the victim 100,000 yen, about $950, as solatium payment, to express apology and remorse to the victim.

“He said he would try his best to pay more,” Tokukatsu said.

Tokukatsu said O’Donnell’s supervisor testified as a character witness, saying “O’Donnell is normally a good person and [the supervisor] thinks that he is the kind of a person who would not do such thing.”

O’Donnell said he “was not himself and was drunk at the time of the incident,” Tokukatsu added.

His next court session is March 17, when the defense plans to present documentation showing the solatium payment. The prosecution also will make closing arguments. A sentence could be handed down at that time.

O’Donnell has been in Japanese custody since his arrest Dec. 25.

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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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