Rape complaint against rep lodged, withdrawn

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Rape complaint against rep lodged, withdrawn

Daegu police said Sunday that a lawmaker with the ruling Saenuri Party was accused of raping a middle-aged woman in a hotel last month and giving her 300,000 won ($257) in cash. The woman later withdrew the complaint.

Officers from the Daegu Metropolitan Police Agency said the case was first brought to their attention on July 24, when a woman in her 40s claimed to have been raped on July 12.

The police failed to specify why it took it took the woman 12 days to report the case or whether she and the suspect had any interactions after the alleged rape. The woman later dropped her complaint against the politician and changed her story.

The sexual intercourse “was not coerced,” the police quoted the woman as saying, and she does not want the politician to be punished.

“We had sex, but I didn’t use all my powers to get myself out of that situation,” the woman reportedly said.

Police said they would summon the Saenuri Party member at some point in the future. More investigation will be done on the woman.

Sex offenders in Korea can still be prosecuted even if a victim withdraws a complaint.

“He’s not off the hook yet,” an insider from the Daegu Metropolitan Police Agency said under the condition of anonymity.

The politician hasn’t issued a public statement, and he and his close aides couldn’t be reached on Sunday. Yonhap News Agency reported that he adamantly denied the accusation on Sunday over the telephone.

From the victim’s initial statements and messages she and the man exchanged on a mobile chat application, the police trace the case back to late June, when the two coincidentally encountered each other at a restaurant in Daegu.

They met for the first time last year through a mutual acquaintance, but hadn’t kept in touch. Only in June did they exchange contact information.

The man called the woman on several occasions, police said, and texted her about 20 times, referring to himself as “oppa,” which means “older brother” in Korean but is often used as a term of endearment. The politician called her on July 11 and invited her to a hotel in Daegu at noon, but she declined.

The next day, the man called her three more times and eventually convinced her to arrive an hour later. Police confirmed from CCTV footage from the hotel that the victim arrived around 11:00 a.m. and left some 50 minutes later.

The suspect was seen leaving 10 minutes afterward.

“He grabbed my body and took my clothes off,” the victim reportedly testified in her early statements. After the alleged rape, the man stuffed 300,000 won in cash into her bag, police said.

Saenuri spokesman Lee Jang-woo said on Sunday that the party was “cautiously waiting” for police to announce their investigation results.

The main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD) commented that the recent case “isn’t new” for Saenuri, whose members have faced similar scandals in the past.

“If it turns out [the Saenuri member did rape the woman], he must be punished as a warning to other party members,” said NPAD Deputy Chief Spokesman Kim Hung-hyun.

In September 2014, National Assembly Speaker Park Hee-tae, 76, was sentenced to six months with a year-long probation for sexually assaulting a 23-year-old female caddie while playing golf.

Kim Hyung-tae, a representative-elect, quit the Saenuri Party in 2012 after being accused of attempting to rape his widowed sister-in-law a decade earlier.

Pocheon Mayor Seo Jang-won, who won the post on the Saenuri ticket, is appealing a sexual assault conviction. He has not given up his post.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN, KIM YUN-HO AND KIM KYUNG-HEE [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]
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