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But Cmdr. Kenneth Marshall, a spokesman for the commander of U.S. Naval Forces, Japan, told the AP that the loosening of the liberty card policy would not have affected the suspects because their squadron was still enforcing it – an option that the top commanders left open to the lower-level leadership.

“This is really about the investigation of a violent crime: If these reports are substantiated, these actions are a complete disregard of the personal moral and ethical standards that the U.S. expects of service members,” he said.

Okinawan police allege that Seaman Christopher Browning of Athens, Texas, and Petty Officer 3rd Class Skyler Dozierwalker of Muskogee, Okla., raped and robbed a local woman in her 20s last week outside her apartment building. The sailors, both 23, were temporarily deployed to Japan with their unit, the VR-59 reserve air detachment based at Joint Naval Air Station, Fort Worth, Texas.

According to police, the two arrived in Okinawa two days earlier on a brief stopover and were staying in an off-base hotel. They reportedly were drinking before the alleged rape took place, between 3 and 4 a.m. They are now in Japanese custody awaiting trial.