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SEOUL — A soldier charged with raping a 66-year-old grandmother in Seoul’s Hongdae neighborhood admitted guilt and asked for leniency Monday in a South Korean court.

Pvt. Geronimo Ramirez, Company E, 2nd Battalion, admitted to raping and beating the woman early the morning of Jan. 14, but claimed he was too drunk at the time to remember the incident.

Ramirez, with his handcuffs removed, appeared before judge Lee Han-ju in his Class A uniform. He was asked if he understood the charges and was informed of his right to remain silent.

Prosecutor Son Young-bae then began questioning Ramirez about the incident and whether he remembered the details.

In chronicling the assault, Son said Ramirez encountered the woman as she was on her way home from her cleaning job and forced her into a parking lot. Ramirez punched her right eye then threw her to the ground and proceeded with a series of rapes, beatings and attempts at forced oral sex over a period of 40 minutes — in the parking lot, the laundry room of an adjacent building and back into the lot.

In total, the prosecutor said the defendant raped the woman three times and twice attempted to force her to perform oral sex. He punched her repeatedly in the face and shoulders.

When police arrived they chased Ramirez for about 200 yards before catching him.

Son asked Ramirez if he remembered any of those details.

“I do not recall,” the soldier replied.

Son said he found it hard to believe Ramirez could have committed the attack over such a long period of time and have no recollection.

“I barely even remember getting arrested,” Ramirez said.

Defense attorney Jung Jin-sung pleaded with the court for leniency, saying Ramirez — who had written a letter of apology to the woman — was sincere in his remorse. Jung said his client’s excitement over his impending Feb. 1 return to the United States led him to drink too much.

Jung said Ramirez came to Seoul on Jan. 13 to celebrate his farewell with a friend. Before taking his friend back to their motel, the two had hit four different bars, where Ramirez drank a total of six or seven beers and a half-dozen mixed drinks between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m.

Ramirez claimed the only thing he remembered was someone he thought might be a police officer, because of the wireless radio on his shoulder, approaching him.

When Ramirez began to sober, he said, he found himself handcuffed and manacled.

Ramirez has since tried to reach a financial settlement with his victim, who Jung said continues to undergo medical treatment and remains too traumatized to address a settlement.

Son recommended a seven-year prison sentence, to be decided at a hearing set for March 9. Ramirez faces a minimum sentence of five years and a maximum of life in prison.


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