A provincial district court has sentenced a U.S. soldier stationed here to a 10-year prison term for the rape of a young Korean woman.
The Uijeongbu District Court sentenced the 21-year-old U.S. Army private of the 2nd Infantry Division, with the heaviest sentence since 1992 when another U.S. private was jailed for 15 years in a high-profile rape and murder case.
The court ordered that the soldier, whose name has not been released, fulfill 80 hours of a sexual violence treatment program and that his personal data be disclosed online for 10 years in accordance with the local law.
This is the heaviest sentence given since the Status of Armed Forces Agreement, which governs the legal status of 28,500 U.S. military personnel stationed here, was revised in 2001.
“The cruel and perverse acts that the accused committed for three hours after breaking into the victim’s studio apartment was enough to cause her fear and sexual humiliation in the sanctity of her own home,” said Judge Park In-sik, adding that the court had taken his guilty plea into consideration.
A 21-year-old U.S. Army private of the 2nd Infantry Division arrives at the Uijeongbu District Court house to receive his sentence for the rape of a local Korean woman, in Uijeongbu, Gyeonggi Province, Tuesday. (Yonhap News)
“The strict punishment for the accused is appropriate, considering that there was not any agreed upon compensation for the victim.”
The soldier broke into the studio apartment of an 18-year-old woman in Dongducheon, Gyeonggi Province, on Sept. 24 while intoxicated. He threatened her with a pair of scissors and sexually assaulted her.
The sentence reflects the intent of the local court to inflict severe punishment on U.S. soldiers who commit serious offenses such as sex crimes. The case drew attention as both South Korea and the U.S. responded immediately after it was first reported by local media on Sept. 28.
Visiting Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell last month offered an apology to the Korean people for “the tragic and inexcusable rape.” The U.S. military also apologized and imposed a month-long late-night curfew on its troops stationed here.
The South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said on Sept. 29 that the Korean authorities would take fair and rapid legal steps on the case.
Prosecutors questioned the soldier a day after taking over the case from the Dongducheon police, and indicted him in detention just 12 days after the outbreak of the crime.
Prosecutors demanded a 15-year sentence for the soldier in the first trial on Oct. 21, and 11 days later, the court gave him a 10-year jail term.
A 40-year-old Korean man got 7 years for raping his 11-year-old daughter on Oct. 26. Another Korean man was sentenced to 10 years in prison for sexual assault while wearing an electronic anklet used to track his movement.
“The accused is a foreigner, but we will make no difference between Korean nationals and foreigners. We will try the case fairly under the Korean law.” said the judge in the first trial on Oct. 21. “The U.S. punishes sex crimes severely. So does South Korea.”
By Robert Lee (email@example.com