Probe of rep for rape is dropped for no evidence

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Probe of rep for rape is dropped for no evidence

The police investigation of a lawmaker, who was accused of raping a middle-aged woman in a hotel last month, unexpectedly wrapped up on Tuesday with Daegu officers concluding that the charge was unsupportable, prompting feminists and the main opposition party to push for a reinvestigation.

The Daegu Metropolitan Police Agency said efforts to find evidence proving a sexual assault or rape were in vain, and that it would send the case to the prosecution Thursday with Rep. Shim Hak-bong cleared of all charges.

Tuesday’s announcement came just a day after the Daegu police vowed to verify whether Shim, a first-term policy maker who represents Gumi A district in North Gyeongsang, contacted the victim after she brought the case to their attention. Police said they would investigate whether Shim pressured the woman or bribed her to withdraw the complaint.

The woman, who police identified as an insurance company worker, claimed on July 24 she was raped by Shim on July 12. The woman, however, dropped her complaint against the politician three days later and changed her story.

The sexual intercourse “was not coerced,” the police quoted the woman as saying.

Police said the woman told them she thought she was raped because Shim stuffed 300,000 won ($257) in cash into her bag right after sex and had not called her afterward.

Sex offenders in Korea can still be prosecuted even if a victim withdraws a complaint. The lawmaker quit the ruling Saenuri Party on Monday but has not resigned his seat in the National Assembly.

Describing a two-hour questioning conducted at the Daegu Metropolitan Police Agency from 9:30 to 11:30 p.m. Monday, the first time Shim was summoned, officers said the lawmaker consistently denied the allegations and stressed he and the victim cleared up the misunderstanding on July 26, two days after she called the police.

“Shim met the victim at a restaurant in downtown Daegu with two other acquaintances on July 26, and they reconciled with each other over drinks for two hours in a karaoke room,” said Bae Gi-myeong, an officer from the Daegu Metropolitan Police Agency.

“All four people, including Shim, told the same story, so we don’t think there were any threats or pressure [from the suspect],” added Bae.

Police said they did not bother to track the victim’s bank account or calling records because “it seemed unnecessary.”

As to why Shim gave 300,000 won to the woman after sex, police said he testified it was “for food expenses,” since he could not take her to lunch.

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

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