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Friday, 4 August, 2000, 10:43 GMT 11:43 UK
Okinawa marine charged
US aicraft carrier in Japan
The US has a large military presence in Japan
An American marine has been charged with molesting a schoolgirl on the southern Japanese island of Okinawa.


Kenny Titcomb, 19, is in custody on suspicion of attacking the 14-year-old girl while she slept in her bedroom on 3 July.

The incident has fuelled anti-American feelings in Okinawa - home to more than half the roughly 48,000 American troops based in Japan.

Last month, thousands of people staged protests ahead of the G8 summit held on the island.

In 1995 the rape of an Okinawan schoolgirl by three American servicemen led to popular demands for the removal of all US military bases in Japan.

Screams

Mr Titcomb, based at the Futenma Marine Corps Air Station, was arrested last month after he allegedly entered an unlocked apartment in Okinawa City and crept into the bed of a high school student.

US troops
US marines have been in Okinawa for 55 years
The girl's mother, who was awakened by her screams, allegedly found the marine, drunk and half-naked, kissing and fondling her daughter.

Mr Titcomb, who will be tried in a US military court, has been charged with indecent assault, indecent acts, unlawful entry into a dwelling and drunk driving.

He could face a prison term of up to seven and a half years if found guilty.

Rape

In a separate case, another 19-year-old marine stationed in Futenma, Derrick Oliver, was sentenced to four years on Thursday for raping a Japanese woman in March.

The rape attracted much less publicity than the Titcomb case, partly because the victim did not want the prosecution to go ahead.

An American soldier has also been accused of a recent hit and run accident in which a Japanese person was injured.

In an effort to reduce growing tensions, the marines plan to move the Futenma air station's heliport to a less crowded part of Okinawa.

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See also:

20 Jul 00 | Asia-Pacific
Okinawa: Island of resentment
10 Jul 00 | Asia-Pacific
Discipline warning for Okinawa military
07 Jul 00 | Asia-Pacific
Okinawa curfew after sex charges
04 Jul 00 | Asia-Pacific
Japan police probe US base attack
16 Jun 00 | Asia-Pacific
US soldier guilty of sex killing
15 Oct 98 | Asia-Pacific
Okinawa death strains US-Japan relations
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