January 15, 2021 13:58
The Seoul Central District Court on Thursday sentenced late Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon's right-hand man to three years and six months behind bars for raping Park's secretary in April last year.
In deciding the case, the court also recognized that Park himself sexually assaulted the victim on several other occasions.
The police and prosecution had refused to bring a case because Park is dead and cannot be prosecuted, but the victim brought a separate case against her alleged rapist which cast an unexpected light on Park's conduct.
To prove the case, the victim argued that she had to have more than six months of treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder as a direct result of the rape. She testified that the official, who handled protocol for Park, took her to a hotel room and raped her after she passed out drunk. The case turned on whether her PTSD was the result of Park's actions, as the official argued, rather than his own.
This prompted the court to determine whether the allegations against Park were true even though there was resistance from the family and law enforcement to making the evidence public.
But based on her counseling records and other testimony the court concluded that the PTSD was the result of both ordeals. "About a year-and-a-half after I began working for Park, he began sending me sexually explicit messages and photos of himself wearing only his underwear, saying 'I want to smell you' and 'send me photos of you,'" the victim told her therapist. She also quoted the mayor as telling her she had a "nice body" and that she needed to get to know a man before getting married.
The court concluded that the victim "suffered considerable mental pain due to sexual harassment committed by the former mayor" for four years starting in July 2015.
The victim finally reported Park to police on July 8 last year, accusing him of continued sexual harassment. Park killed himself two days later on a mountainside near his official residence.
The Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency said late last month that there was not enough evidence to prove the case and concluded that neither the deputy mayor nor former and incumbent city officials were guilty of aiding and abetting Park.
The conclusion was the result of a 167-day investigation involving 46 police officers. At the time, the victim's lawyer, Kim Jae-ryon, accused police of a deliberate cover-up.
Prosecutors were also cagey, though they did reveal one message from Park saying, "There are text messages I exchanged with [the victim] and they could be problematic."
Kim said after the ruling, "The court's recognition of some of the allegations [against Park] offers some solace to the victim. The victim has suffered a lot of attacks from people distorting or denying the facts."
- Copyright © Chosunilbo & Chosun.com