General is arrested for sexually assaulting female officer
A major general has been taken into custody by the military’s investigative authorities for sexually assaulting a female officer, who was a victim of a previous sex crime, the Army said yesterday.
The general, a commander of a division in Incheon, was arrested Thursday night and Army investigators applied for a warrant to detain him for investigation, the Army said. He was accused of sexually assaulting a female noncommissioned officer who was recently assigned to his unit because she suffered from a sexual assault in her previous post.
“The victim is being protected,” an Army official said. “We will handle this case sternly and thoroughly. We are upholding the principle of zero tolerance toward a sexual crime regardless of the offender’s rank.”
It is the first time in the history of the military that a serving division commander was arrested for sexual assault.
After being arrested Thursday night, the central investigation unit of the Army questioned the major general as to whether he sexually assaulted the victim in his office on five different occasions in August and September. The commander reportedly touched her body, hugged her and kissed her against her will over five occasions.
The Army said the victim was recently reassigned from a unit in which she was sexual assaulted by a senior officer in June. The master sergeant who molested her was convicted of the crime and is currently serving a six-month term in a military prison, the Army said.
After the victim was assigned to his unit, the division commander summoned her to his office on the excuse of comforting her, but sexually assaulted her, the Army said.
A military source said the victim revealed the sexual assaults during a counseling session at the unit.
“Because of the experience she suffered in the previous unit, she was psychologically in shock,” the source said. “And the commander knew that.”
The military decided on an emergency arrest to take the commander into custody to show how seriously it took the charges, an Army official said.
After the latest scandal over improper behavior in the military, Defense Minister Han Min-koo called an emergency video conference with commanders of major units yesterday morning. It was the third such conference with commanders since Han took office in June.
After a string of scandals involving the military, there have been more frequent meetings of the generals. After a routine July meeting, an emergency meeting took place on Aug. 13, and President Park Geun-hye made a rare appearance to address the issue of slack discipline in the military.
On yesterday’s video conference, Minister Han stressed that the military must stay vigilant against a North Korean provocation. Then, he spent most of the one-hour conference addressing slack discipline in the military.
“The recent series of scandals ruined the military’s honor and betrayed the people’s trust,” Han was quoted as saying by a military official. “We must sternly reflect on ourselves.”
The source said Han mentioned the scandals one by one and strongly urged commanders to prevent any recurrences.
“Anyone who fails to maintain discipline and disgraces the military will be sternly punished regardless of their rank,” the source said.
BY SER MYO-JA, JEONG YONG-SU [firstname.lastname@example.org]