TOKYO (AP) — Internal Department of Defense documents suggest the handling of troops accused of sex crimes is inconsistent and chaotic.
At U.S. military bases in Japan, most service members found culpable in sex crimes in recent years did not go to prison. In some cases, a letter of reprimand was the only punishment.
More than 1,000 records, obtained by The Associated Press through the Freedom of Information Act, describe seemingly strong cases often reduced to lesser charges. In two rape cases, commanders overruled recommendations to court-martial.
The marines were the strictest while the Air Force was most lenient.
The records may help members of Congress pushing to strip senior officers of their authority to decide whether serious crimes go to trial. Senior U.S. military leaders oppose the plan.
The number of courts-martial is growing and more jail time is being meted out, though that's not reflected in the Japan cases.