South Korean court imprisons US soldier for raping teen

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

United States Forces Korea logo

A US soldier has been sentenced by a South Korean court to ten years in prison for raping a teenager.

Although the court declined to identify the 21-year-old pending a possible appeal, media has named him as Pfc. Kevin Flippin. Flippin stood accused of breaking into the eighteen-year-old's rented accommodation and raping her for hours, stealing 5,000 won (US$4.50). The allegations date to September 24, with the indictment coming that month.

The US government was quick to hand Flippin over and issued an apology following the incident in Dongducheon. Flippin has a week to appeal starting from yesterday's sentencing. His sentence also requires 80 hours of sexual violence education, and will be public for a decade.

The 2nd U.S. Infantry Division soldier had been part of a major US presence 35 km (22 miles) north of Seoul as part of a 28,000-strong force the US maintains in the nation to help protect its ally from North Korean hostilities, augmenting 650,000 active local soldiers.

Although the US military is generally welcomed by the public, anti-US sentiment has been known to flare after incidents involving US troops. One prominent example in 2002 involved two schoolgirls killed by a US vehicle, with US soldiers acquitted by their country in a court martial.

Prosecutors in Uijeongbu District Court had sought a fifteen-year sentence, which would match that handed to a US soldier in 1992 for rape and murder. That case saw calls for greater local powers over foreign soldiers and protesters demanded US troops leave the nation.

Presiding justice Park In-sik said Flippin "satisfied his sadistic and perverted sexual desire for three hours, [while] the victim was forced to endure fear and shame at her own home, where she was entitled to have her peace." He ruled the case was severe enough to warrant a sentence at the top end of the range, adding that Flippin's occupation was not a factor in the court's considerations.