Sexual abuse accusations grow against Korean ex-Assembly speaker

Sexual abuse accusations grow against Korean ex-Assembly speaker

Fresh allegations about former National Assembly Speaker Park Hee-tae's sexual assault of a woman are magnifying public anger with him, as he earlier downplayed the charges raised by investigative agencies.

Park argued last week that he only displayed affection toward the complainant, a golf caddie, as he would to a granddaughter, but did not cross a line. However, the caddy stated that she was harassed by the former Assembly Speaker during "every play until the ninth hole," according to police.

From the 10th hole, a male caddie replaced her at the request of the 23-year-old caddie.

Park, 76, the standing adviser to the ruling Saenuri Party, is suspected of touching the female caddie on the chest and other areas at a golf course in Wonju, Gangwon Province, earlier this month.

When the initial allegation was publicized last weekend, Park said he had only poked her breast once to show his affection. He also claimed that she did not complain at the time.

But the caddie reportedly told police that Park touched her in a way that sexually humiliated her.

While a large number of netizens are calling on the police to take stern action against Park, some netizens have expressed worries that the case was scaled back because he is a former prosecutor and political heavyweight.

Park worked as the chief of several district and high courts in major cities, such as Busan, Daejeon and Chuncheon, and a senior prosecutor at the Supreme Prosecutors' Office before becoming a lawmaker during the Chun Doo-hwan military regime.

He later served as the Justice Minister and the chairman of the Grand National Party, the former name of the Saenuri Party.

Female lawmakers from the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy have demanded that Park apologise to the public for his misconduct.

They lamented the situation, releasing a statement that "the standing adviser to the ruling party, which should be held accountable for the Sewol ferry accident and the National Assembly impasse, is playing golf and committing sexual harassment."

The Gangwon District Police Agency on Tuesday issued a summons against Park for questioning.

"If he does not appear at the police station (within 10 days), we will send a second and third summons," an officer said.

Park was the National Assembly Speaker between 2010 and 2012, during the Lee Myung-bak administration.

kys@heraldcorp.com

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