SEOUL, June 18 (Yonhap) — The family of a deceased noncommissioned officer on Friday filed complaints against three additional Air Force officials, accusing them of mishandling the sexual violence case that led to their loved one taking her own life.
The female master sergeant was found dead in an apparent suicide in May, around three months after she was groped and suffered other abuse by a colleague in a car after a drinking session she was forced to attend.
Though the Air Force’s gender equality center learned of the abuse three days later, it only reported the case to the defense ministry around a month later as part of a monthly report without specifying details in violation of due manuals, according to officials.
“The head of the center did not perform her duty, so the case, as well as damage the victim suffered by other colleagues thereafter, was not properly dealt with,” lawyer Kim Jeong-hwan told reporters, submitting the complaint against center chief Lee Gap-sook for dereliction of duty charges.
Lee told the parliamentary session last week that she failed to promptly report the March case to the ministry, thinking that it was “not important.”
The family also accused the Air Force’s 20th Fighter Wing commander of abuse of his authority, claiming that he did not exercise his authority to reprimand subordinates linked to the case. The victim was affiliated with the 20th Wing when the incident took place.
The family also filed a complaint against a civilian official who was in charge of counseling the victim.
Following intense criticism of the Air Force’s poor initial responses to the incident, the defense ministry launched an extensive probe to determine what caused her to take her own life.
The Air Force allegedly failed to protect the victim, and some of her superiors instead tried to press her to reach a settlement with the suspect in a suspected attempt to cover up the case.
The suspect of the March case was detained earlier this month. Two of her senior colleagues were arrested for negligence of duty and attempted coercion, with one of them even being accused of sexually abusing the victim in a separate case.