Soldier accused of rape is arrested

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Soldier accused of rape is arrested

The military arrested a brigade commander on Tuesday over allegations that he raped a female subordinate multiple times in his military residence in Gangwon, the latest in a series of sexual abuse cases that have shaken the military since last year.

The Army reported on Tuesday that it had arrested the colonel in Gangwon at around 3 p.m., after collecting testimony he had sexually abused a 21-year-old staff sergeant on several occasions since late last year.

The military said it first found out about the case involving the 47-year-old colonel on Monday. His identity has not been revealed, and the military suspects he sexually assaulted the woman more than once at his military residence. The suspect has reportedly denied the charge, claiming the contact was consensual, while the victim has maintained it was forced.

The brigade commander’s arrest follows the apprehension of a major in the same unit, who stands accused of sexually harassing a female staff sergeant.

The military has been embroiled in a series of scandals since 2014 that have involved both sexual and physical abuse. When the circumstances surrounding the death of a conscripted soldier, who suffered weeks of brutal physical abuse at the hands of his superiors, were made public in July, the military found itself at the center of unrelenting controversy.

Faced with escalating backlash, the military vowed zero tolerance for sexual abuse cases as well as to root out physical violence among conscripted soldiers.

In one of the most headline-making cases last year, a sergeant fled his borderline unit in Gangwon after carrying out a fatal rampage, shooting dead five of his comrades, over alleged bullying. The soldier was captured two days after the incident after he shot himself in the chest in a failed suicide attempt.

And in November, the Army swiftly moved to arrest a major general for sexual assault, the first time such high-ranking official was put behind bars before an official indictment.

Army Chief of Staff Kim Yo-han was scheduled to hold a teleconference with senior military officials last night to discuss preventive measures to stop sexual and physical abuse among soldiers.

In Korea, all able-bodied men between 18 and 35 are required to complete compulsory military service. 

BY KANG JIN-KYU [jkkang2@joongang.co.kr]


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