PYEONGTAEK, South Korea — South Korean prosecutors have charged a U.S. soldier with public lewdness for allegedly exposing himself aboard a subway train in Gwangju last month, they said Monday.
Prosecutors said no court date had been set yet for Pfc. Joseph B. Freydenfeldt of Battery B, 2nd Battalion, 35th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, at Gwangju Air Base, a South Korean air force installation that houses a U.S. Army Patriot missile unit.
But prosecutors said they won’t pursue a case against the two other soldiers who police said were with Freydenfeldt on the subway train: Spc. Brandon M. Dougherty and Pfc. Joseph L. Segura, both also of Battery D.
Their battalion is part of the 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, a Patriot missile unit based at Osan Air Base with batteries at various locations on the peninsula.
The incident occurred shortly after 6 p.m. Feb. 5 when, according to Gwangju police, Freydenfeldt and two other soldiers boarded a subway train in Gwangju. Freydenfeldt allegedly exposed himself in front of passengers while the other two laughed, made sexually suggestive motions and snapped digital pictures as the soldier sat next to a woman passenger, according to police.
Police said there were about 10 other passengers, some of whom phoned police. The police met the train at one of its stops and took the three into custody. They were then released to their unit.
Police questioned the soldiers on Feb. 9 at a Korean National Police station in Gwangju and later that day said the three admitted to the incident.
Earlier that day, 2nd Battalion commander Lt. Col. Marcus C. Black and the battalion’s Command Sgt. Maj. Lewis J. Telly met with the Gwangju mayor and apologized for the incident.
Gwangju is 170 miles south of Seoul in South Jeolla Province in the peninsula’s southwest. It has a reputation for lingering anti-U.S. sentiment arising from the 1980 Gwangju uprising.
South Korean military forces in May of that year quelled an uprising by students and other pro-democracy demonstrators pressing for a presidential election and an end to martial law. The violence that followed resulted in numerous deaths, the actual number of which is still disputed.