U.S. Soldier Gets 10 Years in Korea

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A South Korean court has handed down a 10-year sentence to an American soldier for the rape of a teenage girl earlier this month, reports the Korea Times. The ruling marks one of the harshest sentences ever for an American serviceman in the country, the report notes.

The 21-year-old, identified as Private Jackson, reportedly tracked an 18-year-old woman living near his base in the city of Dongducheon, outside Seoul, in the early morning hours of Sept. 24, following her into her apartment and then brutally raping her for four hours. He also allegedly stole the equivalent of $5 from her purse before leaving.

In his ruling, the district court judge stated that Jackson deserved a “stern punishment, as there were no efforts made to compensate the victim or remedy the assault.” Indeed, the case and another also involving a U.S. soldier has renewed widespread anger over the American military’s perceived superior status vis-à-vis its host nation and has led to calls for a revamping of the current Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between the two sides.

In its present form, the SOFA grants U.S. authorities military jurisdiction over American servicemen accused of crimes while in Korea.

In addition to the prison term, Jackson will be required to undergo 80 hours of compulsory treatment for sex offenders as well as have his name and record made public for up to 10 years. He has one week to appeal the ruling.

In response to the ruling, the U.S. 2nd Infantry Division offered its apologies to the victim and her family, as well as to Korean society.

“We have conducted and will continue to emphasize comprehensive sexual harassment prevention training, responsible alcohol use and cultural training with all of our soldiers," the unit said in a statement. "As always, we will continue our efforts to ensure we are good neighbors and that the U.S. Army uniform is one that the people of Korea can trust and depend on as we work with our ROK (Republic of Korea) allies to strengthen the Alliance and defend the peninsula."