Three U.S. servicemen were convicted of raping a 12-year-old Okinawan girl by a panel of three judges at the Naha District Court Wednesday. In sentences considered tough by Japanese standards, Navy Seaman Marcus Gill and Marine Pfc. Rodrico Harp each received sentences of 7 years in prison, while Marine Pfc. Kendrick Ledet was sentenced to 6 1/2 years. Prosecutors had asked for 10 years, arguing that the girl was kidnapped, beaten, brutally raped, and abandoned. Judge Shinei Nagamine told the courts, “This was an extremely heinous and bold crime. It was all the more serious because it was carefully planned.”
Prosecutors say that on the evening of September 4, 1995, the three forced the girl into their rental car after she left a stationary shop. They then beat and bound her as Gill drove to a deserted road in a sugar cane field where the girl was raped and abandoned. All three confessed to a role in the attack. Gill admitted raping the girl and Ledet and Harp said they only helped abduct her upon Gill’s urging but did not rape her. The court ruled that blood stains from the victim found on Harp’s underwear proved he raped her. The judges gave Ledet a lighter sentence because he attempted to rape the girl but was unable to when he realized how young she was.
Lawyers for the defendants criticized the Japanese legal system and said they will appeal, with the families of the defendants saying the verdict was unfair. The defendants themselves showed no emotion as the verdict was read.