A Taiwanese diplomat faced allegations of sexual misconduct for allegedly groping a Fijian female employee after watching an adult video, a lawmaker said yesterday despite the diplomat’s claims that the allegations were overblown.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Taiwan’s representative office in Fiji said it was investigating First Secretary Leon Liu (劉壽軒), an aide to Taiwan’s top diplomat in the South Pacific island, over the scandal, which is alleged to have occurred in April and was eventually settled out of court.
Documents sent from the Trade Mission of the Republic of China to the Republic of Fiji Islands show that Liu has signed a confession admitting that he made “improper physical actions” because of “impulsive behavior” and agreed to pay the woman 5,000 Fijian dollars (US$2,840) to avoid a lawsuit.
“I am ashamed in front of my superiors, coworkers and family members,” Liu wrote in the confession letter, dated May 13.
However, the official has since recanted the letter and denies committing the act.
Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Gao Jyh-peng (高志鵬), who brought the story to light on Sunday, said he received information from an internal ministry incident report as well as accounts from staff at the Fijian mission.
The alleged Fijian victim, whose identity has not been made public, was reportedly sexually assaulted on two different occasions — once when she delivered a routine report to Liu’s office in early April and the second toward the end of that month in front of another office employee at the consulate desk.
On the first occasion, Liu was said to have enveloped the woman in an embrace, only to later place his hand inside her shirt to cup her breast, according to an account she filed with the ministry. In the second incident, Liu allegedly embraced the woman from behind and pressed his face onto her back after asking her to perform office tasks.
Office sources told Gao that following the first incident, Liu claimed he had just started watching an adult video when the woman walked in.
Liu was quoted as saying that he wanted to “investigate the breast shape of women from the South Pacific islands.”
In both instances, the woman, who is reportedly in her 20s, said she felt compelled to speak up, but only filed a formal complaint after another office worker witnessed the act.
Representative to Fiji Victor Chin (秦日新) is said to have asked a disciplinary committee at the ministry to give two demerits to his aide.
The English agreement signed by the woman in response to Liu’s confession said she “[understood] that the misconduct was all unilaterally caused by Mr Leon Liu,” and agreed to accept the compensation as a symbol of the official’s apology.
However, Chin, who is currently vacationing in Taiwan, told the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper) in a report published yesterday that: “The matter is not as serious as Legislator [Gao] makes it out to be.”
In an interview yesterday with Taiwan-based Next TV, Liu said he only signed the confession under pressure from the representative office after the woman threatened to go public with her accusations. The de facto embassy had “no choice” but to admit that the incident took place, he claimed, adding that he felt wronged.
“It’s slander,” Liu said, adding that reporters should investigate whether the alleged touching took place.