The High Court yesterday found fugitive South Korean academic Park Jae-kyung guilty of sexual harassment, upholding a ruling by the Taipei District Court, which had sentenced him to 14 months in jail.
Park fled Taiwan last year when travel restrictions against him lapsed.
Park began teaching as a contract assistant professor at National Chengchi University’s Department of Korean Language and Culture in February 2017, but was dismissed in July that year following accusations of sexual harassment by several female students.
The Taipei District Court in December 2018 found Park guilty and sentenced him to 14 months in prison, commutable to a fine of NT$420,000 (US$13,848). The court also imposed travel restrictions against him.
Park and his lawyer filed an appeal with the High Court, which did not extend the travel restrictions after they expired in April last year.
Park left on a flight to South Korea in July last year.
Yesterday’s High Court ruling was final, but critics said justice was not served, as Park has evaded punishment due to judges’ oversight.
Several students said Park had taken advantage of his position to grope and pinch them during private consultations.
A female student surnamed Yeh (葉) said Park touched and groped her several times when she visited his office.
“Park stroked me just below my clavicle. He blew into my palm, then slapped my buttocks twice. He also pinched my cheek and my waist several times, despite my protests,” she said.
Investigators said that several other students detailed similar claims, while others said they had witnessed Park putting his hands on students and hugging them in class.
The university’s gender equality committee investigated the complaints: nine female students accused Park of sexual harassment, while 102 students signed a petition calling for his dismissal, alleging that he had verbally abused and threatened students, and was not fully prepared for his lectures.
Two female students had also sued Park and asked for compensation of NT$1 million each. A Taipei court in December last year ordered Park to pay NT$500,000 and NT$300,000 respectively to the two plaintiffs.
As Taiwan and South Korea do not have a legal assistance agreement, it will be difficult for the two students to obtain compensation.
Separately, the Taipei District Court yesterday announced that it would not proceed with the prosecution of former High Court judge Yang Ping-cheng (楊炳禎), who was accused of touching a nurse’s buttocks during a hospital stay last year.
As Yang had reached an out-of-court settlement with the woman, the case has been dropped, a court release said.
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