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Ex-secretary calls for probe into sexual abuse allegations involving late mayor

Politics 16:00 July 13, 2020

SEOUL, July 13 (Yonhap) -- Civic groups representing a former secretary who raised sexual harassment allegations against Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon called for a probe into the potential MeToo case on Monday.

In a press conference, officials at Korea Women's Hot Line and Korea Sexual Violence Relief Center called for authorities to launch a "proper probe" into the case in which the "victim mustered up courage hoping that the case would be justly resolved."

"(We're facing) a situation in which the defendant has become absent ... but that doesn't mean the truth disappears," they said, urging the police and the city government to step up their investigation into the case.

Kim Jae-ryun (R), a lawyer representing a former secretary of late Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon, speaks at a press conference held at the Korea Women's Hot Line office in western Seoul on July 13, 2020. The panel called for a proper probe into Park's alleged sexual abuse and urged the public to stop attacking the former secretary. (Yonhap)

The case came into spotlight after Park died last week in an apparent suicide, just a day after his former secretary filed a criminal complaint accusing him of sexual misconduct.

The former secretary claimed that he made unwanted "physical contact" and sent "inappropriate" messages through a mobile messaging app. She has requested police protection following the complaint, according to the police.

Kim Jae-ryun, a lawyer representing the victim, said the former secretary had requested to be sent to another post following the alleged abuse and shared photos and texts from Park with her friends and colleagues. They have been submitted as evidence to law enforcement authorities, Kim added.

In a statement read out by an official at the Korea Sexual Violence Relief Center, the victim said she "hopes to live in a world where she can lead a humane life" and "to recover a sound everyday life."

"I wanted to shout to him to not behave like this within the safety of a court. I wanted to cry out that I'm in pain. I wanted to forgive. I wanted to receive a humane apology and be judged by law in South Korea, which is a law-governed country," she said.

The former secretary has been at the center of political strife following the three-term mayor and liberal heavyweight's abrupt death.

While some have voiced support and solidarity for the alleged victim, others have accused her of making false allegations and threatened to track her down.

Kim, the lawyer, said the victim has submitted an additional complaint with the police on the "secondary damages" that have been inflicted following Park's death.

mlee@yna.co.kr
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