Outrage grows after movie relates rape of disabled innocents
A movie called “Dogani,” or “The Crucible” in English, is shocking viewers by its depiction of sexual abuse of students with disabilities - and how the abusive teachers got away with it.
Based on a true story recounted in a bestselling book by female novelist Gong Ji-young, “Dogani” describes the serial rapes of deaf students by the principal and faculty of Inhwa School, a school for the hearing-impaired in Gwangju. The crimes went on for five years from 2000 to 2005.
The movie has focused public attention on the real case. Six school officials and teachers accused of sexual abuse received slaps on the wrists: two were put on probation, two received punishments of one and two years in prison, and the remaining two weren’t punished at all because the statute of limitations had been reached.
And the school continues operating today. One teacher who escaped punishment, who is surnamed Jeon, 45, was reinstated in January 2008.
The public is calling for the school to be shut down and the statute of limitations for sex offenses to be removed.
The horrors at Inhwa School began in 2000, but it was only in June 2005 that they came to the light after one disgusted faculty member got in touch with a counseling center for sexual violence against the disabled in Gwangju. Police and prosecutors launched an investigation. The school’s administration chief, who was surnamed Kim, 62, was accused in November 2005 of raping or sexually harassing six hearing-impaired students aged between seven and 20.
A teacher surnamed Lee, 40, was arrested at the same time on similar charges. Kim was ultimately convicted and sentenced to one year in jail. Lee got two years.
In June 2008, the National Human Rights Commission of Korea referred four more staffers to the police on similar charges, including the school’s principal, who was also surnamed Kim, and a teacher surnamed Park, 63. At his first trial, Kim was sentenced to five years in prison but after a second trial was let off on probation. (He died of pancreatic cancer in July 2009.) Park was also given probation in his second trial.
They were given probation because they had no previous convictions and because they reached financial agreements with the parents of the victims to drop charges.
A staffer in the administration department surnamed Kim, 45, and a teacher surnamed Jeon, 45, were not arrested because the seven years statute of limitations had expired. Jeon returned to teach at the school in January 2008.
Some parents accepted settlement money from the defendants because they were in financial difficulty.
“Some parents of victims were also disabled, and they dropped the charges against the school officials when the offenders placated them,” said Park Chan-dong, chief of the Special Committee of Gwangju Inhwa School Sexual Violence, a local civic group. “It has been six years since this case came to light but it’s still unsolved ... I can’t disband our committee because the school hasn’t kept its promise to compensate the victims or offer counseling.”
After the movie opened last week, public ire over the case has been rising. More than one million people have viewed it, and netizens throughout the country began a signature-seeking campaign online to call for further investigation. So far, 44,000 signatures have been collected. A signature campaign calling for an abolition of the country’s statute of limitation for sex offenses also started on Monday and there were 50,000 signatures collected as of yesterday.
The Gwangju Metropolitan Office of Education said Tuesday that it is considering transferring the students at Inhwa School to a public special-education school scheduled to open in two years and eventually close down the school.
“If the public school gets established, the fierce debate over Gwangju Inhwa School will abate naturally,” said Kim Dae-jun, spokesman of Gwangju Metropolitan Office of Education.
The education office will also reduce the support fund of 1.8 billion won ($1.5 million) that was allocated yearly to Inhwa School. In 2000, there were 100 students attending the school. Following the rapes, the number of students fell to 75 in 2005 and now the school has only 22 students.
The National Police Agency also announced yesterday it will launch a new investigation into the case by forming a special investigation team of 15 investigators, including 10 sex crime investigators. The team will look into whether there has been further sexual violence at the school.
Ruling Grand National Party member Chin Soo-hee, who completed her term as the welfare minister this month, said yesterday she will push ahead with revising the current Social Welfare Workers’ Law, in an attempt to increase transparency in welfare facilities.
By Yoo Ji-ho, Yim Seung-hye [email@example.com]
한글 관련 기사 [연합뉴스]
경찰 ‘도가니’ 추가 수사 … 본청 수사팀 5명 광주 급파
경찰청에서 직접 지휘
영화 ‘도가니’의 소재가 된 광주 인화학교 원생 성폭행 사건과 관련해 경찰이 추가 의혹에 대한 수사에 착수했다. 영화에서 시작된 파문이 트위터 등 소셜네트워크서비스(SNS)를 통해 증폭되면서 수사로 이어지게 된 것이다.
경찰청은 28일 청장 직속의 지능범죄수사대 수사관 5명을 광주에 급파하고 광주지방경찰청 성폭력 사건 전문수사관 10명과 함께 특별수사팀을 꾸렸다고 밝혔다. 특별수사팀은 ▶가해 교사들의 추가 성폭행 여부 ▶관할 행정당국 관리·감독의 적정성 ▶인화학교의 구조적 문제 및 비리 등 세 부분으로 나눠 수사할 계획이다. 경찰 관계자는 “이미 법원 판결이 난 사건에 대해선 일사부재리(一事不再理·동일한 사건에 대해 거듭 처벌하지 않는다는 원칙)에 따라 같은 수사를 다시 할 수는 없다”며 “그러나 지난해 발생한 원생 간 성폭행 사건 등 인화학교를 둘러싼 새 의혹들이 많이 있기 때문에 추가 수사를 하는 것”이라고 설명했다.
경찰은 인화학교 측과 경찰의 유착 의혹, 성폭행 연루자들이 복직한 뒤 추가 범죄를 저질렀을 가능성, 피해자 측이 합의를 해주는 과정에서 가해자 측의 회유·협박 여부 등 모든 의혹에 대해 수사를 벌일 예정이다.
정지효 경찰청 형사과장은 이날 기자회견에서 “이 사건은 매끄럽게 처리되지 못한 측면이 있다”며 “전 국민적인 관심사로 떠오른 만큼 경찰청에서 직접 수사지휘를 하기로 했다”고 말했다.
교육과학기술부도 기숙사가 설치된 전국 41개 특수학교에 다니는 장애학생의 생활 실태를 점검하기로 했다. 보건복지부 장관 출신인 한나라당 진수희 의원은 사회복지사업법 개정안(이른바 ‘도가니 방지법’)을 국회에 내기로 했다. 이 법안에는 복지재단의 투명성 확보와 족벌 경영 방지, 공익이사 선임 등 법인 임원제도 개선 방안이 담긴다.
이 사건이 대중의 전면에 부상한 데는 SNS의 힘이 컸다. 지난 22일 영화가 개봉된 이후 닷새 만에 관객이 100만 명을 넘어섰다. 영화를 보고 분노와 충격에 휩싸인 관객들이 트위터와 페이스북 등 SNS에 글을 올렸고 분노는 이 글을 접한 시민들로 확산됐다. 인터넷에서 재조사를 요구하는 네티즌 청원운동에는 5만4000여 명이 서명했다. 아동 성범죄 공소시효 폐지를 위한 100만 명 서명 캠페인도 진행되고 있다.
곽금주 서울대 심리학과 교수는 “‘도가니’로 촉발된 사회적인 공분은 불공평과 부조리에 대한 응징 심리”라고 설명했다. 최정기 전남대 사회학과 교수는 “부조리하고 원칙 없는 사회에 대한 불만이 SNS와 결합해 ‘도가니 신드롬’을 만들었다”고 말했다.