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Two sailors pleaded guilty at a Japan court Tuesday in the rape of an Okinawan woman last year — a case that prompted a crackdown on off-base liberty for U.S. service members in Japan, Kyodo News Agency reported.
The guilty pleas came at the start of the trial for Aviation Electrician's Mate 3rd Class Skyler A. Dozierwalker and Aviation Machinist's Mate Airman Christopher D. Browning, who were charged in November with rape, according to Kyodo News and Agency France-Presse.
The sailors, assigned to Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 59 at Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base, Texas, appeared in Naha District Court in Okinawa. A local judge is expected to issue sentences on Friday.
The sailors had stopped with their aircrew at Kadena Air Force Base in Okinawa, where prosecutors said they had been drinking in a local bar and in the early hours of Oct. 16 encountered the woman, who was walking home. Prosecutors said Dozierwalker and Browning raped her in an apartment complex parking lot before stealing cash from her purse. The woman reported the attack to Okinawan police, and the sailors were arrested several hours later at a local hotel. The assault was captured by security cameras and was shown to the jury in court, Stars and Stripes reported.
The incident drew public apologies from top U.S. officials in Japan, including U.S. Ambassador to Japan John Roos; fueled public protests calling for the reduction of U.S. forces stationed in Okinawa; and led senior military commanders to impose curfews and restrict off-base travel and alcohol consumption for all U.S. service members in Japan.
Dozierwalker, of Muskogee, Okla., and Browning, of Athens, Texas, enlisted in 2008 and reported to VR-59 later that year, according to Navy Personnel Command records.