Man on the run was English teacher

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Man on the run was English teacher

An American who has been teaching English in Korea for eight years was wanted by the FBI for alleged statutory rape and arrested in North Jeolla.

The International Crime Investigation Team of the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency said yesterday they arrested the 43-year-old U.S. citizen on April 26. He was deported yesterday.

The suspect was able to avoid detection by the authorities in the past because he was wanted for the alleged rape of a girl under the age of 12 in Kentucky, but had never been caught.

Criminal background checks for English teachers and other foreign workers only show past convictions.

The police said the suspect was wanted for allegedly raping the underage girl three times from August to October 2003.

He was on the run from the U.S. police for more than six months before fleeing to Thailand in June 2004. He received an E-2 visa to teach English in Korea in late 2004.

The Seoul police said he worked at five institutions including an elementary school, university and hagwon in the past eight years.

Supposedly, the suspect sometimes told friends or colleagues when he was drunk that he was on the run for raping an underage girl back home, but no one believed him.

The suspect traveled to China or the Philippines when he needed to renew his Korean visa.

In July 2010, the Korean government asked E-2 visa applicants to submit criminal histories.

But criminal histories only record convictions from the past. “Every country in the world follows the principle of the presumption of innocence,” a spokesman of the Ministry of Justice said.

The police said the suspect received his criminal history report from the U.S. via international mail and submitted it to the Ministry of Justice when he renewed his visa last September, and U.S. authorities realized he was in Korea.

The police said they received intelligence that the suspect was working as an English teacher in North Jeolla from the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, and then received an investigation cooperation request from the U.S.

After two months, they found him. The police deported the suspect from the country yesterday and are investigating if he committed any crimes in Korea.

By Kwon Sang-soo, Kim So-hyun [sakwon80@joongang.co.kr]

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