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Top court confirms conviction of groper who was subject of innocence petition

The top court on Thursday upheld a lower court’s decision on a high-profile sexual molestation case in which a man was accused of groping a woman in public two years ago, confirming the sentence of six months in jail suspended for two years.

On Nov. 26, 2017, the man, 39, allegedly groped the victim’s buttocks as she was coming out from a private room in an oxtail restaurant in the Yuseong district of Daejeon. 


Red circle shows the convicted man facing the woman as she confronts the man after the man allegedly groped her on Nov. 26, 2017, inside a restaurant in Daejeon. (Screen grab of the CCTV footage)
Red circle shows the convicted man facing the woman as she confronts the man after the man allegedly groped her on Nov. 26, 2017, inside a restaurant in Daejeon. (Screen grab of the CCTV footage)

Based on the victim’s testimony and an examination of security footage shot from two angles inside the restaurant, a lower court on Sept. 5 last year found the man guilty of indecent assault. The court ordered a six-month jail term and 40 hours of treatment for perpetrators of sexual violence.

Following the court’s decision, an online petition filed by the offender’s wife claiming her husband’s innocence received more than 330,000 signatures, and the issue sparked heated debate here.

In her statement, the wife argued no physical touch between her husband and the victim can be seen in the video footage. The determination that the alleged sexual touch happened briefly -- about 1.333 seconds as analyzed by the court -- when the man passed by the woman also raised questions.

The man was released on bail after 38 days of incarceration and filed an appeal, arguing the woman’s testimony was the only evidence.

The appellate court, however, also found the man guilty, saying that while the victim’s statements had been consistent throughout the trial, the man’s testimonies had varied. According to the court, the man had initially stated to police there was no physical touch between him and the woman, but after watching the footage, he said there may have been some kind of contact.

The court added there was no reason for the woman to falsely accuse the man of groping her.

Taking into account that it was the man’s first offense and the act of assault was not severe, the court ordered a six-month jail term suspended two years.

Following the top court’s decision, the convicted man’s wife posted a statement, condemning the decision, on an online community. The post received more than 1,300 expressions of support in less than four hours.


By Choi Ji-won (jwc@heraldcorp.com)
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