Soldier guilty of rape drops right to appeal
SEOUL — Tired of the intense media coverage, a U.S. soldier convicted of raping a 66-year-old woman is dropping his right to appeal, according to his defense lawyer.
Army Pvt. Geronimo Ramirez was sentenced March 9 to four years in prison for beating, sodomizing and raping the woman after he spent the night drinking in Seoul’s Hongdae entertainment district.
“He was afraid of … being broadcast on the television news and being reported by various news media,” said defense attorney Jin Hyo-guen. “He said he was scared.”
Jin had earlier stated that Ramirez would appeal the sentence and that the soldier wanted to pay the woman or her family a financial settlement that would help him earn a reduced sentence — a common practice in the Korean legal system. Jin said last month Ramirez had been unable to contact the victim or her family to arrange a settlement.
The woman was on her way home from an early morning cleaning job when the soldier forced her into a parking lot, punched her in the face and threw her to the ground. He raped and beat the woman in the parking lot and the laundry room of a nearby building for nearly 40 minutes before police responded to her screams.
Police chased Ramirez for about 200 yards before catching him.
Ramirez told the court he was so drunk that he remembered nothing of the attack.
He repeated that claim in a handwritten letter to the woman, a copy of which was provided to Stars and Stripes.
In the letter, Ramirez asks the woman for forgiveness but denies that he remembers committing the crimes.
“I also got informed of all the abuse & trauma I did to you & for this I am very sorry … ” Ramirez wrote in the one-page letter to the woman.
Many expressed outrage over the attack and the U.S. military placed Hongdae off-limits to all U.S. Forces Korea personnel because of “force-protection concerns.” It remains off limits.
USFK commander Gen. B.B. Bell issued an apology just hours after the attack.
“I am shocked and horrified at the egregious nature of this crime, and I am extremely upset by this senseless act against an elderly woman,” stated Bell. “On behalf of USFK, I want to express my personal apologies for the great suffering caused her and to the Korean people for this terrible incident.”
He ordered commanders on the peninsula to review their procedures for granting passes and controlling off-duty troops with the “intention of eliminating similar acts in the future,” according to his statement.
Ramirez is a member of the 2nd Infantry Division’s Company E, 2nd Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment.
After serving his sentence he will return to the U.S. Army. Officials say in these cases, the soldiers usually are discharged from the service.