The Uijeongbu District Court on Tuesday sentenced a 21-year-old U.S. Army private of the 2nd U.S. Infantry Division to 10 years in prison. The soldier, who was not named, was convicted of breaking into a dormitory-style rented room in Dongducheon, Gyeonggi Province and raping a teenage girl.
The court also ordered the U.S. serviceman to undergo 80 hours of mandatory therapy for sex offenders and his personal information to be publicly available on a Korean government website for 10 years.
"The victim was trembling with fear and felt humiliated while he committed sadistic and perverted acts to satisfy his sexual desire for three hours," the court said. "The severity of the sentence is inevitable since he showed no remorse."
The Uijeongbu District Prosecutors' Office had demanded a 15-year prison term.
Around 4 a.m. on Sept. 24, the man broke into the rented room in downtown Dongducheon, where an 18-year-old girl was watching TV. He threatened the girl with a lethal weapon and sexually assaulted her several times and then robbed her of W5,000 (US$1=W1,114).
The 10-year sentence on him was the heaviest penalty ever handed down to a U.S. serviceman since the 2001 revision of the Status of Forces Agreement. Under the revised SOFA, Korea now can ask the U.S. military to hand over custody of suspects in 12 major crimes such as murder, rape, and drug trafficking when they are indicted. In the past, Korea was only able to ask for custody of such suspects only after court proceedings were completed.
The total number of crimes committed by U.S. servicemen increased from 207 in 2000 to 377 last year. The average throughout the 2000s was 227.
Meanwhile, Edward Cardon, the commander of the 2nd U.S. Infantry Division, apologized in a statement. He said the U.S. military cooperated as much as possible with Korean police and other agencies from the beginning of the case.
The soldier will serve his term in a Korean penitentiary.