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Woman Says Marines Assaulted Her

January 20, 1998

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) _ A Colombian woman says she was assaulted by several U.S. Marines stationed at the embassy in Bogota after she refused to have sex with one of them unless he paid her.

Johana Villalba, 25, says four Marines managed to slip her into the embassy under the seat of a van early Dec. 28, and she was eventually approached by one of them. The man became angry when she requested $50 for sex and began to hit her, Villalba told The Associated Press.

The U.S. embassy would not discuss details of the confrontation.

``The case is being investigated by federal prosecutors and United States authorities,″ the embassy said in a statement.

A U.S. military source in Colombia, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Marines involved say the woman had sex with one of them, then tried to steal money from his wallet while he was out of the room. The confrontation involved him trying to get the money back from her, they claim.

Sneaking someone into the embassy is a serious breach of security. Marines are assigned to guard U.S. embassies around the world.

Villalba said after the initial confrontation with the man she propositioned, she ran to the embassy entrance and was surrounded by taunting Marines. When she pulled a small knife, she was overpowered, kicked and beaten, this time by several of the men, she said.

``Any man who wants to see my body has to pay, and he didn’t want to pay,″ she said. The story was originally reported in Bogota’s El Tiempo newspaper.

After guards let her out, Villalba looked for police. She says the men followed her in a white van. When she came across a police patrol, she told them what happened and they questioned the Americans.

Villalba said she did not know the names of her attackers.

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