South Korea's highest court upholds US soldier's conviction, sentence

A man walks down a sidewalk in front of a row of bars in Itaewon, Korea.



SEOUL — The six-year prison sentence for a U.S. Forces Korea soldier convicted of raping a drunk South Korean teen was upheld by South Korea’s highest court on Thursday, rejecting the soldier’s second and final appeal.

A South Korean Supreme Court judge read a single-sentence statement saying Pvt. Kevin Robinson’s appeal had been dismissed. Robinson was not present, and the ruling by a three-judge panel was one of dozens announced during Thursday’s court session.

Robinson was convicted last year of raping the teen in her room following a night of drinking in September 2011. He was also accused of stealing her laptop. Robinson admitted to stealing the laptop but has maintained that the pair only had consensual oral sex.

There was little concrete evidence in the case, and the victim’s initial refusal to testify nearly derailed the case. She did not appear in court during Robinson’s initial trial and only testified during his first appeal hearing after judges agreed to allow her to speak via video feed from a separate room.

Robinson told the High Court last fall that he had been treated unfairly by the Korean judicial system and authorities had presumed he was guilty.

“What I get back from the district court, the prosecutors, the police [is] a smirk. You’re wrong, you’re a liar,” he said. “The whole time, I’ve been guilty before I could get a fair trial.”

A Supreme Court spokesperson said Thursday that the court’s job was only to review ruling documents and other records from the lower courts, not to determine whether those hearings had been conducted properly.

“The Supreme Court has no idea whether this defendant got a fair trial or not,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Robinson and the teen met at a popular Apgujeong nightclub and returned with friends to her room. The victim testified she passed out and did not realize she had been raped until she came home from school that night and saw blood on the blanket and the underwear she had been wearing. She told the court she had been a virgin.

Robinson’s attorney argued there was no evidence that the soldier had raped her, and that the victim may have been menstruating at the time. He also argued that her bloodied underwear, which was used as evidence in the case, had been contaminated when she put it in her laundry basket.

Robinson’s case was one of two rapes in fall 2011 that led to the reinstatement of a nighttime curfew for USFK troops.


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