Her public apology, the third of its kind, came a day after her party deprived An Hee-jung, former governor of the central South Chungcheong Province, of membership over allegations that he had sexually assaulted a female secretary four times over the past eight months.
The fall from grace of An, once touted as a potential presidential candidate, was a major setback for the ruling party, gearing up for the June local elections seen as a referendum on President Moon Jae-in's first year in office.
"I am deeply apologetic to citizens regarding former Gov. An," she said during a party meeting.
|Choo Mi-ae, the leader of the ruling Democratic Party, makes a public apology Wednesday for sexual abuse allegations involving former Governor An. (Yonhap)|
"I promise that our party will not make any political attempts to cover up or turn a blind eye to the case in consideration of the possible impact on the local elections," she added.
After the victim, Kim Ji-eun made the revelations through a TV interview late Monday, the party swiftly moved to contain the possible fallout.
The party has expelled An, issued apologies and vowed to stamp out sexual violence within the party and the National Assembly. It also decided to exclude anyone who was embroiled in a sexual abuse scandal from its candidate nomination for the local elections.
"We will do our best to make a safe Republic of Korea, where sexual violence is not tolerated anymore," she said.
The accusations against An provided ammunition for the main opposition Liberty Korea Party's political attack on the ruling party. The LKP has highlighted the moral integrity of its rival, saying An has "sunken with his most sordid appearance."
LKP floor leader Kim Sung-tae proposed forming a special parliamentary committee tasked with fighting sexual violence in an apparent move to continue its offensive against An and the ruling bloc. (Yonhap)