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September 22, 2017

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US indicts Japan base worker for sex abuse

WASHINGTON--U.S. prosecutors Monday indicted a military employee in Japan for allegedly having sex with a drunken underage girl, amid a no-tolerance policy for misconduct on bases in the allied nation.

Ricky Isiah Sherwood, 18, a part-time lifeguard and nephew of a serviceman, was arrested last week at the Kadena Air Force Base in Okinawa, the Justice Department said.

He spoke Monday by telephone to a federal court session in his home state of Minnesota, where a judge ordered that he be detained and returned to the United States to face the charges that could carry prison time.

The criminal complaint alleged that Sherwood gave alcohol to a 17-year-old girl and had sex with her when she was so drunk that she was "unable to stand, walk or dress herself." It quoted a male witness as saying of the girl, "'She looks like she's gunna die.'"

Under questioning, Sherwood admitted he had sex with the girl and said that he videotaped the encounter with his telephone, the complaint said.

The complaint did not identify the girl by name or nationality but said that she lived on the U.S. base with her family.

The U.S. military has vowed no tolerance against misconduct in Okinawa, where tensions have long simmered with residents who accuse troops of crime and noise.

Last year, a Japanese judge in Okinawa sentenced two U.S. sailors to 10 and nine years in prison respectively for the rape of a young woman. The sub-tropical island chain witnessed mass protests in 1995 after the gang-rape of a 12-year-old girl by U.S. servicemen.

The United States and Japan have been trying for years to ease local opposition to a base relocation plan on Okinawa, which is home to more than half of the 47,000 U.S. troops stationed in Japan under a defense alliance.

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