Sunday, October 23, 2011

RAPE TRIAL: Army soldier from Columbia faces charges, outrage in Korea

Kevin Flippin in court/Erik Slavin photo/©Stars and Stripes
SEOUL, South Korea 10/23/11 (Beat Byte) -- A trial began Friday for a U.S. Army soldier from Columbia, Missouri accused of raping a 17-year-old South Korean woman at her apartment near Camp Casey Sept. 24.

Pfc. Kevin Lee Flippin, 21, is facing charges of robbery and aggravated rape in the South Korean city of Uijeongbu. The second accusation of rapesince Sept. 17, Flippin's case has sparked outrage in South Korea, leading to protests outside the U.S. embassy in Seoul and the Uijeongbu courthouse. The recommended sentence is 15 years in prison. involving a U.S. Army soldier and a teenage woman.

Flippin earlier confessed to getting drunk, attacking the woman with a knife and scissors, and raping her in the city of Dongducheon, Korean police told Stars and Stripes, a U.S. military news service that has been following the case. She was hospitalized for mental evaluation and treatment of injuries she suffered trying to fend off Flippin's attack.

At the first day of trial, Flippin confessed again. “I was wrong, I know. It’s not an excuse,” Flippin told the judge, according to a Stars and Stripes report. After drinking vodka and whiskey, Flippin punched and slapped the victim, dragged her throughout the apartment, burned her breast with a lighter, and raped her multiple times, details that emerged during the trial. She fought back, injuring her hand. 

After sobering up, Flippin reportedly begged her forgiveness -- then stole the woman's wallet. 

2nd Infantry Division commander Maj. Gen. Edward Cardon offered a public apology against an unusually tense political backdrop: a U.S.-Korean task force investigating how effectively Korean authorities can pursue military suspects given the so-called "Status of Forces Agreement" that governs the arrangement. 

"I offer the victim, her family, and the Korean people my sincere regret for this incident," Gen. Cardon said in a statement. "We fully expect our soldiers to maintain the highest standards of professionalism and conduct in the community." 

Protestors outside the courthouse demanded an apology from President Barack Obama, and compared the Flippin case to a 1995 Okinawa rape during which three service members kidnapped and raped a 12-year-old girl.

In April, Korean authorities sentenced another U.S. Army private, Lloyd Daniel, to seven years in a South Korean prison for assaulting an elderly Korean couple after he broke into their home. 

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