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Holley used meth with gay lover, police claim

Apr 11,2019
Naturalized celebrity Robert Holley is taken to the Suwon District Court for a warrant review for his arrest on a drug charge on Wednesday. [YONHAP]
Police said Wednesday they began investigating naturalized television personality Robert Holley last year after an alleged drug user claimed he was Holley’s gay lover and the two had used methamphetamine together.

After being placed under immediate arrest on Monday at a parking lot in western Seoul for illegally purchasing methamphetamine online and using it, Holley - also known by his Korean name Ha Il - attended a warrant hearing for his arrest in Suwon, Gyeonggi, on Wednesday.

“To my family, friends and the public who have protected me for all this time, I want to say I apologize,” Holley told reporters as he entered the courthouse.

The court rejected the detention warrant Wednesday evening, setting Holley free. It said it was hard to believe Holley would destroy evidece.

According to the Anyang Dongan Police Precinct, which investigated Holley’s case, this was the third time the law enforcement authorities have probed him for drug use, after inconclusive attempts in July 2017 and March 2018.

In last year’s attempt, according to Anyang police, a 34 year-old man arrested for drug use, identified only by his surname Cho, claimed he was Holley’s gay lover and that they had taken meth together before engaging in sexual intercourse. Police said they confirmed that Cho had visited Holley’s home multiple times through CCTV footage, and had other evidence for Cho’s claims.

But police were unable to charge Holley with narcotics after he passed a chemical drug test on hair samples. Police say Holley showed up to the drug test after having shaved off body hair and receiving a full body wax. He had also dyed the hair on his head. Investigators ultimately ended up having to use small follicles of hair that remained on his chest, a police source said, but the results were negative.

When asked about the hair removal treatments by a reporter as he entered the courtroom Wednesday, Holley curtly replied that “there was no reason.” He did, however, admit to using meth earlier this month.

This time, police say they obtained sufficient evidence to incriminate Holley including surveillance footage from last month of Holley wiring money to an online drug dealer, and also picking up a package suspected to contain drugs.

From a raid on one of his homes in northern Seoul, police found a syringe that may have been used to take the drug.

Most importantly, however, a urine test conducted on Tuesday showed traces of methamphetamine in his system.

Police say they are also looking into a foreigner seen on footage with Holley when he was allegedly wiring money to the drug dealer. While the foreigner, who is not a celebrity, has been identified as Holley’s close acquaintance, the latter maintains he took the drug alone.

Holley is one of most recognized foreign-born personalities in Korea. He is a fixture on television entertainment programs, where he is best known for speaking fluent Korean in a thick Gyeongsang dialect, a skill he acquired while living in Yeongdo District, Busan.

A native of California, Holley first came to Korea as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints - more commonly known as the Mormon Church - in 1978, then returned in 1982 to study at Yonsei University.

He later began a legal career in Korea, founding the Gwangju Foreign School in 1996.

The following year, he became a naturalized Korean citizen.

The media’s coverage of Holley’s possible outing as a gay man has been criticized by some internet users for being unethical or sensationalized, as are the references to his religion, Mormonism, which condemns drug use.

Others, however, maintain that Holley earned a substantial living off of his public image as a clean, family man, and that the allegations against him are within the public’s right to know.

BY SHIM KYU-SEOK [shim.kyuseok@joongang.co.kr]


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