Charges dropped in KATUSA assault
September 26, 2003
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — Charges were dropped this summer against two U.S. Army sergeants accused of sexually assaulting a South Korean augmentee, an 8th Army spokesman said Tuesday.
The two sergeants were discharged administratively from the service, said Lt. Col. Steve Boylan. In a departure from normal Army policy, officials would not disclose the soldiers’ names, even though formal charges were filed against them.
Another U.S. soldier, Sgt. Leng Sok, was sentenced in February to 30 years in prison for his role in the assault.
In a confession, Sok said the two other sergeants took part in a vicious bathroom stall attack in March 2002 against a KATUSA — Korean Augmentee to the U.S. Army — who was training at Camp Jackson in Uijongbu.
Three U.S. soldiers approached him in an outdoor bathroom, the victim testified during Sok’s trial. He said Sok grabbed him by the throat and brandished a knife, and that the three soldiers forced him to perform various sexual acts, leaving him unconscious in a toilet stall.
Sok confessed in August 2002 to authorities but recanted before trial. His lawyers argued during trial the confession had been coerced.
Because Sok recanted, Uniform Code of Military Justice rules prohibited using his statement in prosecuting the other two sergeants, Boylan said.
Sok, formerly of Division Artillery, 2nd Infantry Division, was found guilty Feb. 13 during a general court-martial of sodomy, aiding and abetting sodomy, conspiracy to commit sodomy, assault, indecent acts and making a false official statement.
Boylan said one of the two sergeants was discharged administratively June 16 and the other on July 10. One soldier was discharged for misconduct and the other requested a discharge in lieu of a court-martial, Boylan said.
Boylan said sufficient evidence of misconduct existed to warrant separation from the Army. But, “we are not specifying whether it was directly related to this case,” he said.
Months after the assault, the victim’s mother wrote to military authorities, demanding millions of dollars in return for her son’s cooperation for not taking the story to the media, according to testimony at the trial.
South Korean authorities had primary jurisdiction in the case because the U.S. troops were not on official duty at the time of the assault, but transferred jurisdiction to U.S. Forces Korea to protect the victim’s privacy, according to military officials.
The South Korean soldier was attending the KATUSA Training Academy. Sok and the other two sergeants were attending the Primary Leadership Development Course at the camp.
During the sentencing phase of Sok’s trial, the victim testified he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder because of the attack. He said he has nightmares and hallucinations and has been put on antidepressants and sleep medication.