Busan police face sex abuse charges

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Busan police face sex abuse charges

The Korean National Police Agency said on Tuesday that it will press criminal charges against the two officers who had sex with high school students they were assigned to protect.

The Busan Metropolitan Police Agency Commissioner Lee Sang-sik will likely face internal disciplinary action, according to the Korean National Police Agency.

The two officers face charges of violating the Act on the Protection of Children and Juveniles against Sexual Abuse since they could have easily used their status as police officers to manipulate the students.

The officer of Busan’s Saha Police Precinct faces possible arrest while the officer of the Yeonje Police Precinct has been booked without detention.

The two officers were school-assigned officers, or SPOs, part of a system that was instated in 2012 after a student in Daegu was bullied and later committed suicide.

The Saha Police SPO had sex with a high school girl in his car in early June. The Yeonje Police SPO had sex with another high school girl multiple times starting in March and exchanged more than 18,000 text messages with her expressing his interest in her, according to authorities.

The fact that the two officers had sex with high school girls and were allowed to resign without consequences was first exposed when a former chief of a police precinct accused the officers on Facebook on June 24.

When the news broke, authorities denied having known about it. But the national police announced on Tuesday that Saha Police Chief Jeong Jin-gyu and Yeonje Police Chief Kim Sung-sik did know about it before the officers’ resignations.

The Korean National Police Agency additionally confirmed that a superintendent of the Busan Metropolitan Police Agency and a superintendent of the Korean National Police Agency had also both known about the Yeonje officer by early June but did not report it to their supervisors.

Meanwhile, the Korean National Police Agency confirmed on Tuesday that its commissioner, Kang Sin-myeong, and Busan Metropolitan Police Agency Commissioner Lee Sang-sik did not know about the incident until it went viral online on June 24.

Still, it will likely discipline Lee for being the official chiefly responsible for his subordinates trying to cover up the incident and submitting false testimonies.

Sixteen other people including the Saha and Yeonje police chiefs will face internal disciplinary action, but not Commissioner Kang. The levels of disciplinary action will be determined by a civic investigation committee composed of members of the public administered by the Korean National Police Agency.

Some criticize this decision, saying the investigative team put together by the Korean National Police Agency is giving way to its commissioner and other authorities within the agency.

BY KANG SEUNG-WOO [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]

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