3 suspects charged with rape in Sinan County

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3 suspects charged with rape in Sinan County

Three suspects have been charged with premeditated rape and assault in the investigation of a sexual assault case involving a female teacher in her 20s by three local men from Heuksan Island in Sinan County, South Jeolla.

The three suspects were scheduled to be sent to the prosecution today for further investigation. Each is a father of children in kindergarten, elementary or middle school. The children of two of the suspects are attending the school where the victim worked. They were arrested by police last Saturday, after the victim reported the crime.

One of the suspects, surnamed Park, 49, owns the restaurant where the teacher was having dinner prior to the crime on May 21. He and one other suspect, Lee, 34, are accused of having invited the teacher to join them and getting her drunk.

After the victim became intoxicated, Park brought her to a building at an elementary school at 11:00 p.m in his car while Lee followed. About 30 minutes later, police say, the other suspect, Kim, 38, drove to the elementary school building, as well.

The police initially planned to impose less severe charges on the three since they claimed the rape was not planned.

“The testimonies of the three suspects didn’t match,” said a police officer. “They seemed to have lied when they said the crime was not plotted.”

But given that the three suspects live in the same neighborhood, contacted each other before and after the crime and went inside the building and raped the victim in sequence, the police charged them with premeditated rape.

“I remember seeing Lee and Park talking about something in front of the restaurant before the two headed to the building in the elementary school,” testified the victim to the police.

The police also found on Tuesday that Kim’s DNA matched that found at the crime scene in Seo District, Daejeon in 2007, where a woman in her 20s was raped. The suspect is accused of having raped the victim after breaking into her house on Jan. 21, 2007 in addition to the recent rape case.

The Sinan County Office and 37 local community associations in the region officially apologized to the victim, her family and the nation on Wednesday. The region has been condemned for its lack of security and local officials were accused of trying to conceal the crime since the Ministry of Education was notified two weeks after it was reported it to the local education office.

“We feel deeply regretful over the crime,” stated the Sinan County Office. “To prevent such crimes in the future, we will cooperate with the office of education and the legislative branch.”

Locals as well as the head of the Heuksan Island also issued an official apology.

But the public became more outraged after it was revealed that Go Gil-ho, head of the Sinan County Office, has not visited the island even after he was notified of the crime on May 27. He did not show up to deliver the statement of apology, either; the vice-head announced it instead.

The Ministry of Education, meanwhile, is examining CCTV footage and security meshes installed in school buildings around the nation.

BY KIM HO, SHIN SOO-YEON [shin.sooyeon@joongang.co.kr]
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