TAIPEI, Taiwan - Taipei District Court yesterday sentenced Justin Lee to 18 years and six months imprisonment for sexually assaulting nine women, and another three years and 10 months in prison for filming 15 women without their consent.
The court said the second term can be commuted to a fine at a daily rate of NT$1,000 (S$43).
The Taipei District Court yesterday morning issued the verdict in Lee's criminal and civil cases.
The prison sentences are in regard to Lee's criminal cases; the court at the same time ruled on the civil suits, ordering that Lee must pay NT$14.25 million in compensation to 12 victims.
Prosecutors claimed that between 2009 and 2012 Lee filmed himself raping 34 women after spiking their drinks. Lee denied all charges.
Among the 34 plaintiffs, the Taipei District Court deemed that Lee sexually assaulted nine of them and filmed 15. Some victims were both sexually assaulted and filmed.
The court said that based on the video recordings of the assaults, and the result of the plaintiffs' medical examinations, there was insufficient evidence to prove that Lee had drugged and then raped the women.
The court noted that two of the plaintiffs decided to reconcile with Lee and drop the lawsuits.
It also ruled that Lee had saved all the videos in a file named "collection" on his computer. The judge scolded Lee, who attended the verdict announcement yesterday, for holding these films up as his personal trophies, while harming the victims physically and mentally.
The court said given that he fled Taipei after his crimes were discovered by prosecutors in 2012, and that he still denies his offences, Lee has therefore shown no remorse for his crimes.
Chang Li-yeh, a lawyer representing one of the plaintiffs, cited the victim as saying that Lee's sentence is "way too lenient," adding that she will appeal the Taipei District Court's ruling.
The Taipei District Prosecutors Office said it will decide whether or not to appeal the ruling once it receives the Taipei Court's official verdict.
Lee's lawyer Tsou Chi-hung said Lee's first reaction to the ruling was anger, noting that Lee will appeal the verdicts of both the criminal and civil cases.
In August 2012, Taipei prosecutors investigated rumours that nude photographs of sexual assault victims were leaked to tabloids from a local police department.
A local newspaper later published explicit photos of the alleged victims. Following their publication, the Internet exploded with requests for links to the photos.
Lee was on the run from the law for 23 days before he turned himself in to Taipei District Prosecutors Office on Aug. 23 last year.