In 1995, a horrible event occurred that led the people and government of Okinawa to rethink, again, the United States military presence on the island. This was the kidnapping and rape of a 12-year-old Japanese girl by three U.S. servicemen. The incident shocked both nations and led to fervent opposition of U.S. soldiers in Okinawa.
On September 4, 1995, four military men from the United States were driving around in a rented vehicle, discussing getting prostitutes for the evening. Three of them were later involved in the rape. They were then Pfc Kendrick M. Ledet of the Marines, Pfc Rodrico Harp, also of the Marines and Navy Seaman Marcus D. Gill. Their ages ranged from 20 to 22 at the time. The fourth man asked to be let out of the vehicle when the other three men began discussing rape, as Gill did not have any money for a prostitute.
The three remaining men found a 12-year-old girl walking up the street at 8 p.m. that same day. Ledet pulled her into the car. Harp secured her with duct tape and struck her. They then drove to a field where Gill got out of the car and entered the back seat where the girl was taped up. He beat her as she struggled and then raped her. He was closing on 300 pounds and was 6 ft. tall. Harp later said that he did not rape the girl, but he also said that he did. Ledet claimed that he only pretended to rape her because he was afraid of Gill. When they were finished, they left her in the field.
The men were initially held by the United States military. However, they were given over to Japanese authorities rather quickly. At trial, Gill was found guilty of rape. Both Ledet and Harp were only found guilty of conspiracy, but Ledet was the only one who got a reduced sentence of six and a half years. Both Harp and Gill got seven years. All served their sentences in Japan and were dishonorably discharged upon release.
Interestingly, the only man who constantly asserted that he did not rape the girl was later found dead after sexually assaulting a 22-year-old woman, killing her and then killing himself. Ledet's sister said it was out of character for him, but it is hard to say what the truth is. Was he changed by his time in prison and the events leading up to it or was he really a sinister rapist from the beginning? His suicide might paint a story of turmoil and pain, but he will never tell it and only one of his known victims lives.