OLYMPIA, Breaking News: A second incident involving alcohol and violence surfaced Thursday in the background of the Army staff sergeant suspected of killing 17 Afghan villagers — a 2008 accusation that he thrust a woman’s hand to his crotch and fought with her boyfriend.
A Pierce County Sheriff’s Department incident report obtained by The Associated Press quoted a woman claiming Robert Bales told her she was beautiful, then “pulled her hand to his crotch” outside a Tacoma, Wash., bowling alley. The deputy described Bales as “extremely intoxicated.”
The report says Bales began punching and kicking the woman’s boyfriend. When the boyfriend raised one leg to stop the kicking, Bales grabbed the leg and pushed him to the pavement, according to the incident report.
Each person involved in the incident was drunk, to the point of mumbling and slurring their speech, according to the deputy’s account.
John Henry Browne, an attorney representing Bales in the Afghan killings case, declined to discuss the assault accusations because he said it has no bearing on the Afghanistan matter.
A call seeking comment on the 2008 incident from Bales’ attorney, John Henry Browne, was not immediately returned.
Details of the incident follow a report this week that Bales had been arrested in 2002 for a drunken assault of a security guard at a Tacoma casino. That charge was dismissed after Bales completed 20 hours of anger management training.
U.S. military officials say Bales was drinking on a southern Afghanistan base before he crept away to two villages overnight March 11, shooting his victims and setting many of them on fire. Nine were children. Eleven belonged to one family.
Records show that Bales was not charged in the 2008 incident at the Paradise Bowl.
Pierce County prosecutor Mark Lindquist said his office considered the case for a possible charge of assault in the fourth degree but determined that it did not meet charging standards. He didn’t know the specific reason behind that decision but said he suspected it was because there were no injuries, lots of alcohol and no evidence as to who started the scuffle.
Lindquist also noted that the incident report said the couple initially told authorities they didn’t want to press charges, something he said prosecutors would take into consideration.
Reached Thursday, the woman involved, Myra Jo Irish, agreed with the officer’s narrative in the incident report, but denied his characterization that she and her boyfriend were intoxicated.
“I was just basically in shock that some stranger would walk up and do that,” Irish said.
Irish said that Bales was with a group that pleaded with her not to file charges.
They told her Bales was drunk and if she “could be so kind” not to file an official report. “His friend said he was married and in the service, and it would destroy him” if she filed charges,” Irish said.
Irish said she met with a sheriff’s deputy and gave him a written statement at the bowling alley. The deputy who took the report did not return a phone call seeking comment./AP