Mastermind of sex abuse ring sentenced to 40 yearsA Seoul court on Thursday sentenced the mastermind of one of the country's largest online sex trafficking rings to 40 years in prison.
The court ordered his personal details to be made public for 10 years and banned him from working at children-related facilities for 10 years after his release. Cho has to wear an electronic bracelet for 30 years and pay 100 million won ($90,000).
"The accused has widely distributed sexually abusive content that he created by luring and threatening many victims," the court said, adding that Cho caused his victims irreversible damage by releasing their private information.
The court said Cho should be removed from society for a long time, given "the gravity of his crimes, the sheer number of victims and damage done to them, his evil influence on society and his [unrepentant] attitude."
Earlier this year, Cho was indicted on 14 counts. Cho was accused of organizing a criminal ring from May 2019 to last February, during which he and his accomplices blackmailed 74 women, including 16 minors, into filming sexually abusive content and selling it to the members of Baksabang, an online chat room on Telegram.
The 25-year-old college graduate was also alleged to have ordered one of his conspirators to rape an underage girl after blackmailing her over a nude video.
The court sentenced four of Cho's accomplices to seven to 15 years in prison, and a maximum of 10 years of imprisonment for a 16-year-old accomplice who is subject to the Juvenile Act, for working for the online sex abuse ring.
The punishment fell short of the life sentence sought by prosecutors last month, who cited irreparable damage done to his victims. One of the victims said in a petition that Cho and his co-conspirators are evil and deserve imprisonment for 2,000 years.
Calling the ruling "only the start of the end of the Telegram sex abuse case," civic groups urged law enforcement and the judiciary to protect sex abuse victims.
At a press conference held after the rulings were made, Cho Eun-ho, a lawyer from Minbyun, a social group of progressive lawyers, said, "Law enforcement and the court should use every possible means to protect the rights of victims, who can be empowered to live their lives again by helping bring the perpetrators to justice."