A strange attack on the bench
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A court has come under heavy attack from a pro-government civic group after it indirectly accepted the charges that late Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon had sexually harassed his former secretary, in a separate trial between the female victim and a former city administration employee. The irrational act of the civic group can seriously undermine the independence of the bench.
The victim claimed damages against Mayor Park and city employees for turning a blind eye to the alleged crime. The police stopped investigating the case against Park after he committed suicide last year, and found no fault with city employees. The case is now under reinvestigation by the prosecution.
The latest trial was between the victim and a secretary of the late mayor. The victim claimed she was raped by the secretary after an office dinner last year ahead of the April 15 parliamentary elections. The court immediately ordered his arrest after delivering a jail term of three years and six months.
A civilian coalition supporting the ruling Democratic Party (DP) accused the bench of defaming the name of the deceased for mentioning Park, even though the case was not relevant to the former mayor.
But the civic group’s claims in the latest case are not convincing, as the defendant argued that the victim’s mental distress originated with Park’s alleged sexual advances and media reports about the case, not with his own sexual misconduct. As a result, the bench had to consider Park’s alleged behavior and influence on the victim to make a determination. The police did not disclose its investigation into Park, but the prosecution revealed some of its findings that may have influenced the ruling.
The bench found the victim had been suffering from Park’s sexual advances, but also concluded the secretary’s liability as his conduct also had caused suffering to the victim.
The government, DP and Seoul city administration were neglectful of the victim since she raised charges against the mayor. She was even referred to as an “alleged victim” instead of a “victim.” The city even held a large-scale public funeral for the mayor.
It is a relief that the victim had a chance to speak her case through a separate trial. The ruling front must apologize to the victim and also investigate Rep. Nam In-soon who was accused of leaking the victim’s accusation against Park.