Top court upholds ruling on sexual assault case

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Top court upholds ruling on sexual assault case

Korea’s top court on Thursday upheld a lower court’s ruling of a two-year suspended prison term against a man for grabbing a woman’s buttocks at a restaurant, ending a two-year-long legal battle that sparked social controversy between pro- and anti-feminist groups.

The 39-year-old man, whose name was undisclosed, was sentenced to six months in jail by a district court on Sept. 5, 2018, for groping the buttocks of the woman who passed by him for a brief moment inside the restaurant in Daejeon in November 2017. He was also ordered to undergo 40 hours of treatment for sexual offenders and banned from working in organizations related to children and youths for three years.

The court said the plaintiff “stated consistently how the defendant sexually assaulted her” and that “the accused was not regretful of his wrongdoing.”

An appellate court also handed down the same jail sentence but suspended it in consideration of his family’s plea. Then the man appealed to the Supreme Court in May this year, claiming the evidence for the guilty verdict was not objective.

“There’s no legal misunderstanding or insufficient review in the original verdict that found the defendant guilty for touching the plaintiff’s buttocks with his hand,” the Supreme Court in Seoul said in its final sentence.

The case gained attention right after the first ruling was made as the man’s wife posted a petition the following day on the presidential homepage claiming that her husband had been wrongfully accused. Her claim attracted more than 330,000 sympathizers, far surpassing the 200,000 mark requiring the presidential office to clarify its stance on the issue.

The wife also posted related CCTV footage from the restaurant showing the moment of the sexual assault on an online community site.

In the 1.33-second footage, the man stands among a crowd inside the restaurant, and the woman walks toward them. When the woman nears, the man turns back and walks past her.

But the critical moment is blocked from view by a wall fixture, making it difficult to visually confirm whether he actually grabbed her buttocks.

Later, the case developed into a serious feminist issue, and protests supporting and opposing the rulings followed.

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