A 2011 case involving a male CEO of an entertainment agency and his alleged sexual assault of a young teenage girl recently saw a verdict of not guilty by the Supreme Court, contradicting initial rulings and eliciting outrage from the public.
Previously, in August of 2011, according to a report by Korea Daily (Hankook Ilbo), agency CEO Mr. Cho was visiting his son in a hospital, when he met “A,” who was 15 years old at the time, 27 years younger than himself. The two discussed entertainment, after which he attempted to kiss her in his vehicle, and was met with refusal. He called her out again later, during which time the two engaged in sexual intercourse. When “A” later found out she was pregnant, she left home and stayed with Mr. Cho. After giving birth, “A” pressed charges against Mr. Cho for repeated sexual assault.
TV Chosun reported that the first and second trials ruled the defendant guilty of sexual assault, resulting in sentences of 12 and 9 years in prison, respectively. Mr. Cho had claimed that “A” was romantically interested in him, but it did not go through in court.
However, the Supreme Court thought differently upon presentation of evidence in the form of letters and text messages that were exchanged between the two parties. The Supreme Court stated, “The correspondence between the two, in which the plaintiff says she loves [Mr. Cho], seems sincere… In contrast with her statements of love, it’s difficult to believe that it was sexual assault.” Evidence leading to the ruling of “not guilty” includes letters from “A” during Mr. Cho’s arrest, in which she says “I love you” and “I miss you.”
The case has returned to the High Court with the latest judgment of “not guilty.”
Netizens have been in an uproar since the news of this verdict was released, saying that to base a verdict on the words of a 15-year-old minor with immature judgment is problematic. Comments say that no matter if love was involved or not, the Protection of Minors Act has still been violated, and that 15 is an age which still requires protection by law, etc.