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Prosecutor in sexual abuse case calls for probe on secondary damage

By Kim So-hyun

Published : Feb. 5, 2018 - 17:22

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The female prosecutor who publicly accused a former senior Justice Ministry official of sexually harassing her years ago requested for an investigation into false rumors about her.

Seo Ji-hyeon said that then-senior prosecution official Ahn Tae-geun groped her at a funeral in 2010 and that she was unfairly treated after making a formal complaint. She says she has suffered emotional distress, as rumors have spread on the internet that she made the revelation with an aim to enter politics or to solicit a job.

During a more than nine-hour-long questioning session Sunday by a special team of prosecutors looking into the alleged harassment case, Seo requested a probe into malicious rumors that were causing secondary damage to her, according to one of her legal representatives. 


Seo Ji-hyeon (Yonhap) Seo Ji-hyeon (Yonhap)

“We asked for stern action against secondary damage. We asked (the prosecutors) to track down where the rumors were originating from and punish those responsible,” the representative said.

If the special inquiry team decides to accept Seo’s request, it is likely to interrogate prosecutors who made denigrating remarks against her on social media and look into an online community where the rumors circulated.

Justice Minister Park Sang-ki said in a press conference last week that there should be no criticism or attacks against Seo and that the ministry would work to prevent any secondary damage.

The special inquiry team is expected to question this week Ahn and others who were at the scene of the alleged incident in 2010, including former Justice Minister Lee Kwi-nam.

Looking into whether Seo was unfairly treated at work, the team is also considering summoning Rep. Choi Gyo-il of the Liberty Korea Party who allegedly tried to help cover up the harassment case while serving as the Justice Ministry’s criminal bureau chief.

Seo attended the questioning Sunday despite the fact that Lim Eun-jeong, a prosecutor who had tried to bring up the harassment case for Seo, called on the head of the special inquiry team -- Cho Hee-jin -- to step down.

Lim said that when she raised allegations of sexual violence by senior prosecutors in the past, Cho told her to leave the prosecution and receive psychotherapy.

Seo’s lawyer said his team does not share Lim’s concerns and expects the special inquiry team to discover the truth.

By Kim So-hyun (sophie@heraldcorp.com)