(LEAD) Air Force officer gets 9-yr prison term over sexual harassment
(ATTN: UPDATES with court's statement in paras 3-4)
SEOUL, Dec. 17 (Yonhap) -- A noncommissioned Air Force officer was sentenced to nine years of imprisonment Friday for sexually abusing a female colleague who later took her own life, according to a military court.
The master sergeant, surnamed Jang, was accused of groping the victim of the same rank inside a car in March. He also blackmailed her not to report the case to the authorities while sending threatening text messages.
"Even if the defendant is not solely responsible for the victim's death, it seems that the mental damage caused by the molestation was the main cause of the extreme choice of suicide," the General Military Court in Seoul said in the ruling.
"It is inevitable to give a heavy punishment corresponding to the nature of the crime," it added.
The ruling came seven months after the victim took her own life in May. Prosecutors had sought a 15-year jail term for Jang in October.
The sexual abuse case sparked intense public fury, particularly as the Air Force is under criticism for failing to take appropriate steps to protect the victim while attempting to downplay the incident.
In June, Air Force Chief of Staff Lee Seong-yong stepped down to take responsibility.
(LEAD) S. Korea fully restores bilateral military information-sharing pact with Japan
Major N. Korean websites offline as of Tuesday morning
American admits to train graffiti-related charges but calls himself artist
Apple launches Apple Pay in S. Korea
Son Heung-min hoping S. Korea will build on positive World Cup momentum
Yoon puts S. Korea-Japan relations back on track
Japan's removal of export curbs on S. Korea to boost supply chain stability, ease biz uncertainties
Yoon's summit with Biden to highlight S. Korea's 'pivotal' role in region: U.S. experts
(News Focus) Solution to forced labor issue shows Yoon's commitment to improving ties with Japan
Seoul's controversial plan for forced labor compensation reflects urgency of security partnership with Tokyo: experts