Tables turned on sex assault claim

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Tables turned on sex assault claim

Former Prosecutor General Shin Seung-nam was cleared of a sexual assault charge against him by a former worker at a country club that he runs, putting an end to a year-long legal battle to clear his name.

In addition to dropping the charge against the 71-year-old former prosecutor, the Uijeongbu District Prosecutors’ Office indicted a woman surnamed Kim for falsely accusing Shin and her father for defaming him.

The scandal surrounding the former prosecutor general erupted in November 2014 when Kim accused Shin of sexual assault, alleging that her boss came to her dormitory room on June 22, 2013, to forcibly hug and kiss her.

Prosecutors discovered it was on May 22, 2013, that Shin had visited Kim’s room in the Fortune Hills Country Club in Pocheon, Gyeonggi.

There was a change in the law on June 19, 2013 that cancelled a one-year statute of limitations on complaints about sexual crimes.

If the assault took place on May 22, 2013, the charge could not be made because the statute of limitations would have expired.

Prosecutors ruled that Kim fabricated the date so she could accuse Shin. They also looked into the allegations and found that when Shin visited Kim’s room on May 22, 2013, it was to persuade Kim not to quit her job.

He was accompanied by another female worker of the country club and Kim’s roommate was also in the room, making a sexual assault highly unlikely. Given there was no other evidence submitted to back Kim’s claim other her allegation, prosecutors concluded Kim’s side of story was false.

Shin decided to make a formal complaint of false accusation and defamation against Kim and her father to clear his name .

In an interview with the JoongAng Ilbo, Shin maintained he visited Kim’s room in 2013 to plead with her not to quit her job as a receptionist. He said he decided to visit her and ask her in person because of her important role in his company and he took Kim’s colleague with him.

“After we finished our talk, I just patted her on the back in a sign of encouragement,” he said. “That was the only physical contact I had with her.”

Prosecutors suspect that Kim and her father may have colluded with a businessman surnamed Ma who co-founded the country club. In recent years, he fought with Shin over management rights of the club.

Shin served as prosecutor general between May 2001 and January 2002 under the Kim Dae-jung government.

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

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