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(2nd LD) Baseball players reinstated after avoiding indictment over alleged sexual assault

All Headlines 19:26 February 08, 2019

(ATTN: ADDS ball club's reaction at bottom)

SEOUL, Feb. 8 (Yonhap) -- Two professional baseball players who recently avoided indictment over alleged sexual assault were reinstated by the league on Friday.

The Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) lifted indefinite suspensions on Cho Sang-woo and Park Dong-won of the Kiwoom Heroes. The KBO instead ordered the two players to perform 80 hours of community service for "damaging the dignity of the league" with their actions.

Cho, the team's closer, and Park, its catcher, were accused of sexually assaulting an intoxicated woman at a team hotel in Incheon, 40 kilometers of Seoul, last May. The Heroes were in town for a road series against the SK Wyverns.

After months of investigation, prosecutors decided on Jan. 28 that there wasn't enough evidence to indict the two. Cho claimed he had consensual relations with the woman who accused the two players of sexual assault, and Park said he'd returned to his room in the hotel after the three had drinks together.

When the allegations surfaced on May 23 last year, the KBO banned Park and Cho from all baseball activities indefinitely.

The Heroes had played 49 games at the time Cho and Park were suspended, and they ended up sitting out the final 95 games of last season.

Both had been key contributors for the Heroes, with Cho, a 24-year-old fireballer, in particular, having emerged as a solid bullpen arm.

Before the allegations surfaced, Cho was 1-2 with nine saves and a 3.79 ERA in 18 appearances in his first season as the Heroes' closer.

The Heroes are currently holding spring training in Peoria, Arizona.

An official with the Heroes said the team respects the KBO ruling, but it hasn't yet decided whether to hand down its own punishment to the players or to send them to the spring training site right away.

"During their suspension, Cho Sang-woo and Park Dong-won didn't get paid, and we'll have to negotiate new contracts with them," the official added. "We'll have further discussions on their status."

These file photos, from May 28, 2018, show the Kiwoom Heroes' catcher Park Dong-won (L) and pitcher Cho Sang-woo arriving at Incheon Namdong Police Station in Incheon, 40 kilometers west of Seoul, for questioning over sexual assault allegations. (Yonhap)

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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