US Sailor Pleads Guilty in Okinawa Rape Case

NAHA, Okinawa — A U.S. sailor pleaded guilty Friday to raping an intoxicated Japanese woman at a Naha hotel, an incident that sparked anti-base protests and contributed to the tightened liberty restrictions that took effect earlier in the day.

Seaman Apprentice Justin Castellanos, 24, a corpsman assigned to Camp Schwab, stood before a three-judge panel at Naha District Court and admitted he took the woman — a tourist from Fukuoka on the mainland — into his room after finding her passed out in the hallway of the hotel where he was staying on the night of March 13.

Castellanos took advantage of the fast-asleep woman, who had little awareness of what was happening, the prosecutor said. When she woke up and found a stranger next to her in bed, she cried out loudly for help, which awoke her date in a nearby room.

Castellanos left the room with his belongings to seek help from a friend but returned to the hotel, where he was arrested, said the prosecutor, who added that the victim’s DNA was detected on Castellanos’ body.

Final arguments in the case are scheduled for June 27.

The sailor’s arrest prompted Okinawa’s highest-ranking servicemember, Lt. Gen. Lawrence D. Nicholson, III Marine Expeditionary Force commander, to offer apologies to Gov. Takeshi Onaga.

Because of the incident, off-base privileges for servicemembers under III Marine Expeditionary Force command were…

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