Court orders detention of stepfather in brutal abuse caseA man who stunned the nation for having allegedly abused his nine-year-old stepdaughter for nearly four years was put behind bars Monday after a court issued a pretrial detention warrant against him.
The Miryang branch of the Changwon District Court approved the police's request for a warrant to arrest the man, identified only as a 35-year-old resident of Changnyeong, a county in South Gyeongsang about 350 kilometers (217 miles) southeast of Seoul. The court cited potential destruction of evidence and his status as a flight risk as reasons for his detention.
The man was detained Saturday following accusations that he had brutally tormented his stepdaughter, an elementary school student, since 2017 with his 27-year-old wife, the biological mother of the child. They allegedly tied the child with a metal chain, burned her feet with hot metal chopsticks and gave her only one meal a day.
The alleged abuse case came to light after the girl, wearing pajamas and no shoes, was found wandering on a roadside by a neighbor near her home in Changnyeong. She escaped from home on May 29.
The girl told police that she couldn't go outside freely because she was tied to a metal chain all day, except when she was doing housework.
The police earlier raided the home of the girl and found a handful of items that are presumed to have been used to abuse the victim, including metal chains and a frying pan. They also secured the girl's diary, which chronicled her sufferings, as criminal evidence.
The police had earlier asked for an arrest warrant against the stepfather on charges of violating the child welfare law and inflicting bodily injury.
Arriving at the court early in the day to attend his arrest warrant hearing, the stepfather repeatedly apologized before reporters but denied his child abuse charges, including an allegation that the girl nearly suffocated after being forcibly drowned in a bathtub.
The man also told reporters he has failed to play his role as family head, while refusing to answer whether his wife took part in the alleged child abuse.
Police are also planning to launch an investigation into the mother, who was hospitalized last Friday after attempting to injure herself.
The girl has been sent to a child care agency after receiving two weeks of hospital treatment.