Top U.S. military officials in Okinawa Prefecture failed to report offenses, including sexual harassment, committed by a senior officer under their command, according to a recent report from the Inspector General of the Marine Corps.
The report, published in June 2017, criticized the Corps’ top marine on the island — Lt. Gen. Lawrence Nicholson, commander of the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force (III MEF) — and other leading marines there for failing to report offenses committed by Col. Daniel Hunter Wilson while he was assigned as a liaison officer to Darwin, Australia, in February 2016.
The move comes as the U.S. military justice system faces widespread criticism, including from New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, for allowing base commanders to decide whether to pursue charges against service members accused of serious crimes, such as sexual offenses.
According to the report, Wilson committed numerous offenses in Australia that included sexual harassment and heavy drinking, and also was suspected of drunken driving. After only about 11 days of what was supposed to have been a six-month assignment, Wilson was recalled to Okinawa.
Despite Wilson belonging to the III MEF, Nicholson and other top Okinawa-based marines decided not to report his offenses to the Military Justice Branch, said the report, which was obtained under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act by Military.com.
Two months later, Wilson was deployed in April 2016 to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Two months later, Wilson was deployed in April 2016 to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. There, he was arrested for an alleged sexual assault on a 6-year-old girl. He was later convicted at court martial of this offense, as well as his previous offenses in Australia, and given a 66-month prison term.
The inspector general’s investigation criticized Nicholson for failing to report Wilson’s violations in Australia. Among his reasons for not reporting Wilson, Nicholson told the IGMC his subordinate had not done anything criminal or illegal in Australia and claimed he had “just been stupid,” the IGMC report said.
As a result of the IGMC’s investigation, Nicholson received unspecified administrative action.
Commenting on the matter, Maj. Brian Block of the Office of Marine Corps Communication told The Japan Times, “Misconduct of any kind cannot tolerated (sic), and we expect commanders to exercise their authorities to thoroughly investigate any marine suspected of misconduct.”
Adrian Perry, the mother of the 6-year-old girl molested by Wilson, said Nicholson ought to have been punished more severely.
“Lt. Gen. Nicholson’s failure to report Col. Daniel Hunter Wilson’s behavior in Darwin is a failure that will haunt me for the rest of my life. I believe wholeheartedly that if Wilson had been punished for his shameful behavior in Australia, he would never have been able to hurt my child,” she said.
In recent years, sexual offenses linked to the marines in Okinawa have been rife. According to U.S. Marine Corps legal documents, between January 2015 and November 2017 64 marines were found guilty at courts-martial in Okinawa for sexual offenses against adults, children and an unknown number of animals.
In the meantime, reports obtained via the U.S. Freedom of Information Act from the Okinawa branch of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service detail at least four previously unreported cases in which Japanese civilians were apparently victims of sexual offenses committed by marines between 2015 and 2016.
Two of the cases involved violent sexual attacks on women; as a result of the victims choosing not to participate in the investigations, the perpetrators were allowed to quit the military instead of facing courts-martial.
Additionally, according to the NCIS files, a marine allegedly exposed himself on two occasions outside schools near Camp Hansen, a base in the town of Kin, but the local police apparently halted their investigations because the suspect refused to respond to their questions.