Kadena High School reports 4th alleged sex assault in past 3 weeks

Kadena High School, Okinawa, Japan (STARS AND STRIPES)
From Stripes.com
Kadena High School, Okinawa, Japan (STARS AND STRIPES)

Kadena High School reports 4th alleged sex assault in past 3 weeks

by: Matthew M. Burke | .
Stars and Stripes | .
published: May 31, 2014

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Kadena High School officials are dealing with the fourth alleged sexual assault of a student to come to light in three weeks.

The latest incident allegedly occurred during the Memorial Day weekend and was unrelated to any school activities, according to DODEA-Pacific schools spokesman Charly Hoff. School officials contacted Kadena Air Base security forces to investigate after being told of the case Tuesday.

Hoff referred further questions to Air Force officials, who did not immediately respond to queries. Kadena assistant principal Dr. Susan Paul declined to comment when reached by phone.

“As educators, we are committed to doing our part to help end sexual assault, but without peers, parents, extended family members, leaders and other caring individuals in the community stepping up and leaning in to help, this problem will not go away,” Hoff wrote in a statement to Stars and Stripes.

Hoff said another round of military-style Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Training, modified for the younger dependent audience and more comprehensive than one delivered in April, is set for next week. The students will be separated by gender to foster candid discussion.

The first round took place about a month after an 18-year-old male student allegedly raped a heavily intoxicated 17-year-old female classmate in front of other students at his uncle’s on-base home and used his cell phone to record it. Charges against that student were announced three weeks ago in federal court in Minnesota under provisions for felonies committed abroad by certain people employed by or accompanying U.S. servicemembers.

The following week, another sexual assault allegedly occurred on Kadena High school grounds. The May 19 incident was reported to Okinawan prefectural police instead of American military investigators to lead the probe.

Hoff said authorities are also investigating a fourth assault that allegedly occurred on the weekend of May 3. No other details were available at press time.

He said the rash of reported incidents doesn’t necessarily reflect a rise in assaults.

“The increased reporting may indicate that the sexual assault prevention and response training provided to students at the end of April is working,” he said. “This is a positive first step toward ending sexual assault altogether. Increased reporting brings consequences; consequences bring change; and changes in attitudes and beliefs will bring an end to sexual assault in our community.”

Only about 30 percent of sexual assaults are reported, Hoff said, citing Justice Department statistics.

Letters from Kadena High principal Terry Gibson were sent home to parents and sponsors Friday urging them to take a more active role in educating students.

“To be clear, we’re not interested in running out the clock on the school year; we’re not just hoping this problem goes away on its own; and we’re not sweeping anything under the rug,” Gibson wrote. “We have been and will continue to take this issue head-on.”


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