Soldier in South Korea denies stealing phone in rape case
SEOUL — A 2nd Infantry Division soldier tried to convince a South Korean judge Wednesday that he did not steal a woman’s cell phone before raping her in a Dongducheon alley last summer, according to testimony in Seoul Central District Court.
The robbery accusation, if proven, could mean considerably more punishment for Sgt. Jonathan Kim, who admitted last month to the rape of the 22-year-old South Korean woman.
With the rape charge, Kim, a Korean-American and a U.S. soldier, faces a maximum of three years in South Korean prison, according to his lawyer, Kim Jong-pyo. A conviction of rape and robbery could bring as much as 10 years in prison, his lawyer said after the morning’s proceedings.
During the trial hearing, the woman testified that Kim took the phone before beating her and raping her in the alley. She said Kim was trying to prevent her from calling the police for help.
"He put his hand over my mouth and dragged me to the alley," the woman said, through the court’s interpreter.
Later, Kim admitted he was drunk and that he attacked the woman, a stranger, in the middle of the night.
The woman said she gave the phone to Kim as he demanded just before the attack. When she went back with police later that night to look for it, it was gone. She also said she never checked with the cell phone company to see whether Kim had used the phone.
Kim testified that he took the phone and threw it over his shoulder.
He did not hear it hit anything and he never looked for it, Kim told Judge Lee Gwang-man.
The woman, who was granted a request to testify without Kim in the courtroom, also said the soldier did not take anything else from her that night.
The woman was not asked to testify about the attack or rape.
Kim’s lawyer, who is no relation, and his father, Kim Young-jin, said the family has offered to pay 4 million won — about $2,700 — in a settlement to the woman. In South Korea, defendants in criminal cases often reach financial settlements with their alleged victims in exchange for a lighter prison sentence, though the settlements are not considered an admission of guilt.
On Wednesday, the woman again refused to accept any money from Kim’s family or his lawyer.
"I would like to have him in prison all the rest of his life," she told the judge, adding that she feels anxious and nervous all the time.
"I live my life that way every day."
Kim, who joined the military in 2004, had made financial settlements with two women he allegedly assaulted in August in Seoul. The women, both 21, withdrew their complaints against Kim, meaning he won’t be tried in those cases.
Kim is due back in court Dec. 19 in the rape and robbery case.