Brigadier general suspended for sexual harrassmentAn Air Force general was suspended after being arrested and charged with sexual harassment, according to military authorities on Tuesday.
The brigadier general was arrested for sexually harassing a woman in his unit in an incident that was reported by the victim.
Shockingly, the incident occurred during a special reporting period for sexual violence from June 3 to 30 designated by the Defense Ministry.
An official from the ministry who spoke on the condition of anonymity said, "I understand that investigative authorities from the military urgently arrested the accused brigadier in order to separate him from the victim.”
The brigadier general is accused of attempting to force physical contact upon a female officer at a karaoke bar after a dinner with his subordinates. He denied the allegations, but military investigators reportedly have closed-circuit television footage that caught the incident.
The incident came on the heels of two sexual harassment scandals in the Air Force.
The first was the suicide of a female Air Force staff sergeant in May, who reported being sexually harassed by a male sergeant in her unit in a vehicle in March. The victim reportedly took her own life after military police in her unit did not take action and colleagues urged her to drop her complaint.
Her family’s petition on the Blue House website, which urged an investigation into her death and sexual harassment complaint, has gotten over 217,000 signatures. The suicide led to the resignation of Air Force Chief of Staff Lee Seong-yong and sparked a presidential probe into the force’s handling of the case.
Only two days after the female officer committed suicide, the force was roiled by allegations that female Air Force members were secretly filmed without their consent by a male military policeman and that the unit again failed to take action to protect the victims.
Investigators discovered a trove of footage of Air Force women, filmed without their consent, in various states of nudity in a USB and mobile phone belonging to the sergeant.
However, according to the Military Human Rights Center, the unit only transferred the sergeant a month after he was exposed, while military police in the unit also asked the victims to “be understanding because he, too, has human rights” and that they could rest easy because “the perpetrator is being educated.”
Center chief Lim Tae-hoon criticized the military police in the unit for not arresting the offending sergeant and “protecting their own.” Lim said the Air Force was proving itself “unreliable for victims” by “not even separating victims from perpetrators.”
A military official who spoke on the condition of anonymity said on the latest incident: “The mood in the military is very grim following the report of the latest sexual harassment incident, which comes while [we] are already being condemned by the public.”
He added, “The fallout from this incident is expected to be quite severe as it involves an active-duty general.”
BY MICHAEL LEE [firstname.lastname@example.org]