This story has been corrected.

CAMP HUMPHREYS, South Korea — An American soldier received a three-year suspended sentence in South Korean court after he admitted molesting a 4-year-old girl at a playground.

Spc. Christopher Bonn, a medical specialist assigned to Eighth Army, appeared Monday at Daejeon District Court’s Cheonan Branch in his dress uniform with handcuffs and leg shackles to receive his sentence from Presiding Judge Jeon Kyongho. Bonn received a suspended sentence, according to U.S. Eighth Army spokesman Col. Juan Martinez. 

Bonn pleaded guilty Oct. 16 to sexual assault based on allegations that he grabbed the girl’s hand and inserted his own hand into her pants, touching her genitals, at an apartment complex playground in Asan city in July.

Asan is less than five miles from Camp Humphreys, the U.S. military’s largest overseas military base and roughly 40 miles south of Seoul.

The child did not know Bonn and was traumatized by the incident, Jeon said in court Monday.

The parents had notified police and Bonn initially denied the charges, claiming the suspect recorded by nearby closed-circuit cameras was not him, according to the judge. But Bonn later admitted the allegations and reached a settlement with the child’s parents, Jeon said.

At hearings during the 5-month case, Jeon said that Bonn had pictures of young, unidentified girls on his cellphone. Park Seon Ki, Bonn’s attorney, argued it was unclear whether the images were of underage girls.

Jeon on Monday handed Bonn a sentence that was two years less than recommended by prosecutors. The judge also sentenced Bonn to four years of probation and barred him from working for organizations that deal with children or people with special needs for five years.

Bonn was ordered by the court to register as a sex offender in South Korea.

Asked at court and by phone this week, Park declined to comment on the case. He also declined to disclose details of the settlement with the girl’s parents and whether Bonn would appeal his sentence within the one-week deadline.

Bonn arrived in South Korea on April 3, Martinez said by email Tuesday.

“Eighth Army remains committed to being good ambassadors and neighbors,” he said. “We hold our service members to the highest standards; [Bonn’s] actions are not indicative of our values.”



Spc. Christopher Bonn received a suspended sentence from a South Korean judge on Dec. 11 after he pleaded guilty in October to sexual assault, according to U.S. Eighth Army spokesman Col. Juan Martinez. The previous version of this story did not note that the sentence was suspended.
David Choi is based in South Korea and reports on the U.S. military and foreign policy. He served in the U.S. Army and California Army National Guard. He graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles.
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Yoo Kyong Chang is a reporter/translator covering the U.S. military from Camp Humphreys, South Korea. She graduated from Korea University and also studied at the University of Akron in Ohio.

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