A court handed down suspended jail terms to four family members who repeatedly raped a teenage relative who suffered from an intellectual disability.
The Cheongju District Court Thursday sentenced an 87-year-old grandfather and two uncles of a 16-year-old girl to four-year suspended prison terms for sexually assaulting and raping the girl for the last seven years. Another uncle received a three-year suspended jail term.
The court acknowledged that their crime was ``sinful'' as they used the young girl, who is their family member, to satisfy their sexual desires. But it gave the suspended terms, saying, ``The accused have fostered the girl in her parents' place. Considering her disability, she will also need their care and help in living in the future.''
The court added it took the accused people's old age and illness into consideration.
Citizens strongly denounced the ruling, saying the punishments were too lenient for the grave crime. Internet users said it is absurd to release them to ``take care of her,'' as she needs help from others, not from rapists. They also said those committing such a crime do not deserve consideration regarding old age or illnesses.
Some bloggers are collecting signatures to oust the judge who made the ruling. The prosecution also decided to appeal. ``One of them even has a previous conviction for rape but was given a suspended term. The ruling is unacceptable,'' a prosecutor said.
The petition is here and has over 12,700 signatures as of this posting.