May 13, 2013 12:46
U.S. police are investigating allegations that ex-presidential spokesman Yoon Chang-jung molested a woman during a U.S. trip.
Yoon's accuser is a U.S. citizen in her early 20s who was hired as an intern at the Korean Embassy in Washington D.C. to assist him for the duration of President Park Geun-hye's U.S. visit last week.
In the U.S., police investigate charges of sexual assault whether the victim files a complaint or not. A Washington police spokesman said it started investigating after receiving a report of "misdemeanor sexual abuse."
In an internal Cheong Wa Dae investigation, Yoon reportedly admitted grabbing the woman's buttocks in a bar and waiting naked for the woman to enter his hotel room the following morning.
The case echoes the 2011 scandal surrounding Dominique Strauss-Kahn, then chief of the International Monetary Fund, who was arrested as he was about to board a plane in New York.
Strauss-Kahn was charged with attempting to rape a hotel maid who had allegedly surprised him in his room while he was in a state of undress.
Yoon, by contrast, was hurriedly packed off on a plane to Korea while the incident was reported to the police in Washington D.C.
U.S. police could summon Yoon back to Washington, but there is no guarantee that he will comply.
In that case, U.S. police could try to get him extradited under a bilateral treaty, but that is possible only when the charges are serious enough to carry a jail sentence of at least one year.
Even if the offense is major enough, a Korean court could refuse to extradite him.
Diplomatic sources say Seoul and Washington will probably come to some sort of arrangement in order to minimize the political repercussions.
Under Korean law, sexual offenses are investigated only if the accuser files a complaint, so police here can do nothing unless the woman files a complaint in Korea.
The law is about to change on July 19, making it possible for all sexual offenses to be investigated, but that does not apply retroactively.
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