Difficult to make charges stick in sex-for-bribe cases

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Difficult to make charges stick in sex-for-bribe cases

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사회지도층 인사 성접대 의혹을 받고 있는 건설업자 윤모씨 소유 강원도 원주 별장의 노래방. 사진은 지난해 3월 열린 윤씨와 군대 동기의 모임 장면이다. [사진 인터넷 카페 캡처]

As Kim Hak-eui, who has been implicated in a sex-for-influence scandal, resigned from his post as vice minister of the Ministry of Justice on Thursday, the question now is how the National Police Agency that is investigating the case will substantiate the charges.

In cases like these, a government official who received sexual favors will be charged with bribery if it is proved that the official received the favor in return for exercising his influence, but such cases are not often proven in court.

In November last year, the Seoul Central District Court rejected a prosecutor’s request to issue a detention warrant against a 30-year-old prosecutor surnamed Jeon who allegedly had sex with a suspect he was investigating in a theft case.

The prosecution at the time indicted Jeon for taking bribes and abuse of power, but the court stated that “the bribery charge can’t be accepted due to lack of evidence.”

It means that it would be impossible for the police to take judicial action unless they can prove that Kim received sexual entertainment service as a bribe, even if they prove that the man in the two-minute-long sex tape is Kim.

Earlier in the week, the police said they were investigating a 51-year-old contractor surnamed Yoon who offered sexual entertainment as bribes to influential people over two years from late 2009 at a vacation home in Wonju, Gangwon.

About a dozen women provided sexual services to the guests at the villa.

Names of former and incumbent high-ranking government officials including Kim have been spread around, and Kim resigned from his post on Thursday evening, though he denied the allegation.

The police said on Thursday that they have secured testimony from two women, a 51-year-old self-employed woman surnamed Kwon who has accused Yoon of sexual assault and extortion last year and a female university student that Kim had sex with in the villa in Wonju.

“Yoon has been bragging about his relationship with Kim to his friends and told me that he will use the sex video file for his business when Kim becomes the prosecutor general sometime in the future,” Kwon was quoted as saying to the police.

Yoon, however, said that he only has known him for five years and never offered him sexual favors.

It is also a mystery why Kim took the vice minister post of the Justice Ministry position in mid-March. Sources in the police said that it wasn’t a secret among investigators that Kim, who was the chief of the Daejeon High Public Prosecutors’ Office at the time, was involved in the sex-for-influence scandal.

The police announced on Monday that they are running a preliminary investigation on the case, and some high-ranking government officials are suspected of participating in the sexual entertainment.

“People said Kim is crazy for many reasons when he said he will take the offer for vice minister,” a friend of Kim told the JoongAng Ilbo under the condition of anonymity. “But he said he had a plan, so people around him thought that he had something to back him up.”

By Chung Kang-hyun, Kwon Sang-soo [sakwon80@joongang.co.kr]

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