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Naval officer arrested for assaulting Japanese woman on flight

By Eric DuVall   |   Updated March 19, 2016 at 5:42 PM

TOKYO, March 19 (UPI) -- A U.S. Navy officer was arrested after allegedly groping and punching a 19-year-old Japanese woman on a flight from San Diego to Japan, officials said.

The officer is a 33-year-old lieutenant stationed at the Navy's base in Okinawa, USA Today reported.

The incident happened over the course of about 90 minutes on a commercial flight. Witnesses told Stars and Stripes the officer was drinking and had been repeatedly groping the woman's leg. Another passenger reported the behavior to a flight attendant and the woman had switched seats when the officer allegedly hit her in the face.

The severity of the woman's injuries was not reported.

The officer was taken into custody early Friday when the plane landed at Narita International Airport in Tokyo. A spokesman for the Navy in Japan said U.S. officials are cooperating fully with the Japanese police investigation and the two sides are working to determine which country should have jurisdiction over potential criminal proceedings. A separate investigation by the Navy has also begun.

The officer remains in custody Sunday. He has not been charged.

The arrest comes just three days after Seaman Apprentice Justin Castellanos, 24, was arrested and charged with allegedly raping a Japanese woman inside an Okinawa hotel. The U.S. base commander in Okinawa issued a public apology to the island's governor over the incident.

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