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Court backs dismissal of professor over sex assault

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Published : 2014-07-23 19:57
Updated : 2014-07-23 19:57

A Seoul court on Wednesday ruled in favor of a university’s decision to fire a professor who sexually assaulted his student.

The Seoul Administrative Court struck down the lawsuit filed by the former professor at a Seoul-based university. He had sued a state-run appeals commission for siding with his former employers, after they sacked him for sexual assault last year.

“It is hard to see the decisions by the commission as too severe or exceeding its authority. The plaintiff caused great damage to the dignity of education workers by sexually assaulting a student,” the court said in its ruling. “In addition, he inflicted further pain on the victim by falsely testifying that she seduced him.”

Last July, the former professor allegedly kissed the victim ― then a senior ― at a bar, saying that he could help her become a professor.

After the victim reported the case to the university authority, he told the disciplinary committee that she “seduced him,” a testimony which turned out to be a lie.

He was fired, but lodged an appeal with the Education Ministry-affiliated Appeal Commission for Teachers, claiming the school’s punishment was too severe. But the commission said the school made the appropriate decision, prompting him to file the suit.

In Korea, people tend to view teachers with added respect, but some wayward male teachers take advantage of their privileged social status to sexually harass female students.

Earlier in the year, a student who was molested by a professor ended up having to take a class taught by her attacker, an incident which spurred a public outcry. Within weeks, the university removed the professor from his post.

To tackle rampant sexual abuse committed by professors on campus, the Education Ministry is pushing for a revision of the related law to block sex offenders from working at universities.

The current law bars convicted sex criminals from working at lower education facilities including high schools, preschools, daycare centers and private institutions.

By Yoon Min-sik (minsikyoon@heraldcorp.com)

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