At U.S. military bases in Japan, most service members found culpable in sex crimes in recent years did not go to prison, according to internal Department of Defense documents. Instead, in a review of hundreds of cases filed in America's largest overseas military installation, offenders were fined, demoted, restricted to their bases or removed from the military.
In about 30 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 hundreds of cases in graphic detail, painting a disturbing picture of how senior American officers prosecute and punish troops accused of sex crimes.
The handling of allegations verged on the chaotic, with seemingly strong cases often reduced to lesser charges. In two rape cases, commanders overruled recommendations to court-martial and dropped the charges instead.
Even when military authorities agreed a crime had been committed, the suspect was unlikely to serve time. Of 244 service members whose punishments were detailed in the records, only a third of them were incarcerated.
The analysis of the reported sex crimes, filed between 2005 and early 2013, shows a pattern of random and inconsistent judgments: