Army officer attempted suicide as investigation drags on

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Army officer attempted suicide as investigation drags on

An Army officer who suffered from sexual harassment attempted to commit suicide, a military source belatedly confirmed on Tuesday as authorities continue to investigate involved persons.
 
According to an Army insider who spoke on the condition of anonymity, a sergeant who entered the service last April was continuously stalked and sexually harassed after her immediate superior sent her sexually solicitous messages.
 
The victim reported the incidents to her unit command in August that same year with the help of another senior officer. The accused officer was reportedly dishonorably discharged from the military a month later after being dismissed from his post.
 
However, the victim claimed that their unit command and the division's legal office responded inappropriately in the process.
 
In a Blue House petition dated Aug. 20 this year, the victim’s older sister wrote, “There was an attempt to force my sister to agree to a conciliation process [with the perpetrator] in order to prevent her from filing a formal report during the investigation process, and no measures were taken to separate her from the perpetrator.
 
“My previously healthy younger sister has been in pain for more than a year with frequent fainting episodes, vomiting, hemorrhage, hair loss, insomnia and stress-induced panic and is now in a mental hospital after several suicide attempts.”
 
She added, “After intimidating her by abusing his position as her boss, the perpetrator sexually harassed and forcibly molested her, and even resorted to persistent stalking.”
 
The victim said there were additional officers who collaborated with the main perpetrator in inflicting psychological damage upon her.
 
“There was another officer who directed her to sleep with [the main perpetrator], another who filmed [her] while sleeping and distributed the video in a group chat, and an officer who was close to the main perpetrator and asked to see [her] complaint [against him]. There was also the legal department, which had come to a secret agreement with the perpetrator to try to hush up the incident,” a person close to the victim said on their behalf.
 
The source added that the unit command tried to blame her for putting the unit in disarray, and that there were even officers who accused her of being at fault for being promiscuous.
 
The victim ultimately decided to transfer to a different unit. However, the source said it was difficult to adapt to the new unit as she had already been labeled a “problematic officer” and “sexually promiscuous sergeant.”

 
The victim reported the incident again in June, during the Defense Ministry’s special reporting period for military victims of sexual harassment, which was instituted following the death of a victim of sexual harassment by the Air Force in May.
 
"The investigation into those involved in inflicting additional damage upon the victim is currently underway, but the division's gender equality counselors are continuing to help the unit command and the Army's gender-equal center to protect the victims," the Army source said.
 
The source also added, “We will continue to make various efforts to prevent sexual violence and raise sensitivity [regarding sexual harassment] while taking strict measures in accordance with laws and procedures for reported cases in order to eradicate sexual violence cases.”

BY MICHAEL LEE [lee.junhyuk@joongang.co.kr]
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