S. Korean activist groups unhappy with outcome of Davis case
OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea — South Korean activist groups will consider mounting a campaign of protest rallies if the U.S. Air Force secretary lets 1st Lt. Jason D. Davis resign and avoid the prison term he received at his court-martial last week, an activist leader said Friday.
And they said they will seek legal advice on whether to urge South Korean prosecutors to charge Davis with rape, a charge Air Force prosecutors brought but later dropped when the alleged victim declined to go forward.
Davis, of the 51st Security Forces Squadron at Osan Air Base, headed the squadron’s Songtan Town Patrol, which walks the Shinjang bar district outside the base main gate. The base is in Songtan, a district within the city of Pyeongtaek.
Kim Yong-han, head of the Task Force To Oppose The Expansion Of U.S. Bases In Pyeongtaek, said his and allied groups will watch for whether the Air Force secretary will grant Davis’ July 6 request to resign in lieu of court-martial.
“If the Air Force director [permits] him to resign before receiving the punishment from the judge, we will make a demonstration … firstly, in front of the gate of Osan Air Base,” Kim said.
After Davis pleaded guilty to several charges involving abuse of his position as head of the town patrol, a military judge on Wednesday sentenced him to dismissal from the Air Force and two years in prison.
But while the Air Force secretary’s decision is pending, Osan officials are forbidden from further action in the case. There is no mandatory deadline, but RILO requests typically have been decided within about 100 days, Air Force officials have said.
As of Friday, base officials had received no word of a decision, said 7th Air Force spokesman Capt. David Smith.
Davis pleaded guilty Tuesday to several charges, including conduct unbecoming an officer. He admitted to offenses including accepting cash and gifts from club owners, maintaining illicit sexual liaisons with bar girls and illegally possessing weapons and ammunition.
Davis also was charged with rape and assault, but prosecutors later dropped those charges.
“The individual involved elected not to go forward with the charges,” Smith said Friday.
Kim said he’ll ask South Korean lawyers whether the nation’s legal system gives South Korean prosecutors avenues to pursue a rape case against Davis. If so, said Kim, his organization will press for that prosecution.
Jung Yu-seok, chief of the Korea Sexual Violence Relief Center, said Friday that South Korean authorities typically will not pursue a rape case if the alleged victim declines to testify or otherwise aid an investigation.
However, Jung added, a third party — such as Kim’s organization — could call on authorities to prosecute a case, but it is unlikely the prosecutors would do so unless first provided with the amount and type of evidence they would need to build a strong case.
Kim said the two-year prison term given Davis should have been at least 15 years.
The judge could have sentenced Davis to a maximum of 21 years and three months in prison, dismissal from the Air Force and forfeiture of all pay and allowances. Prosecutors asked for a five-year sentence and dismissal from the Air Force.
K.C. Lee, Songtan Chamber of Commerce president, said he was satisfied with Davis’ sentence, adding that now it’s key that the Air Force ensure such abuses are not repeated lest they inflame anti-U.S. feelings.
“Nowadays … many different kinds of groups have their own voices and then they can say, ‘Oh, Yankees no good’ or, ‘Americans no good,’” Lee said.
“That kind of things we would like to prevent … for future times.”
Davis is in the Camp Humphreys jail pending further action in his case.
Hwang Hae-rym contributed to this report.