NAHA, OKINAWA PREF. – Two U.S. sailors were given prison terms of nine and 10 years on Friday for raping and injuring a Japanese woman in her 20s in Okinawa in October.
A panel of three professional and six lay judges at the Naha District Court handed a 10-year prison sentence to Christopher Browning, 24, a U.S. Navy seaman, and a nine-year term to Skyler Dozierwalker, 23, a petty officer third class.
Prosecutors had sought 12 years for Browning and 10 years for Dozierwalker.
Their lawyers had asked the court not to impose harsher sentences just because the two are U.S. servicemen. “Meting out a harsher penalty than what a Japanese convicted of the same crime would get would constitute discrimination. Please reach a fair and impartial decision,” they said in their closing statement.
“The ruling may seem severe, but the damage to the feelings of the victim and residents is more severe,” presiding Judge Hideyuki Suzuki said.
The court said in its decision that the sailors’ acts “ignored the victim’s character, and were contemptible and violent.”
They were convicted of raping the woman at around 3:40 a.m. Oct. 16 in central Okinawa Island, inflicting physical injuries that needed about two weeks to heal.
Browning also stole ¥7,000 in cash from the woman.
Both sailors pleaded guilty.
Earlier reports said surveillance camera footage showed to pair raping the woman in a parking lot.
Following the rape, the U.S. military imposed a nighttime curfew on all 40,000 of its personnel in Japan.
Even so, several U.S. servicemen and other related personnel have been arrested by Okinawa police over crimes and accidents mostly related to drinking.
The rape case sparked anger, especially among people in Okinawa, which hosts the bulk of U.S. military forces in Japan.
The rape occurred at a time of fierce local opposition to the deployment of Osprey aircraft at the Futenma base in Ginowan, Okinawa, due to safety concerns.