SEOUL » A South Korean court sentenced a U.S. soldier to 10 years in prison Tuesday for raping a teenage girl — the second harshest punishment handed down to a convicted American soldier here in nearly 20 years.
Uijeongbu District Court convicted 21-year-old Pfc. Kevin Flippin of sexually assaulting the 16-year-old girl numerous times after breaking into her small boarding room near Seoul in September, court spokesman Lee Sang-yup said.
Flippin committed many "sadistic and sexually perverted acts" while threatening the girl with a pair of scissors, a knife and a lighter, Lee said. The soldier robbed the girl of 5,000 won ($4.50) as well, he said.
The court verdict said the girl felt "terrified and sexually humiliated," according to Lee.
The case, along with a separate rape allegation by a teenage girl against another U.S. soldier, prompted top U.S. military and government officials to offer public apologies.
"Our sincere apologies go out again to the victim, her family and the Korean community," the 2nd Infantry Division said in a statement later Tuesday.
About a dozen South Korean activists rallied near the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, chanting slogans and holding placards, including one that said: "We need Obama’s apology!"
The court ordered Flippin to undergo 80 hours of counseling and his personal information to be made public on a South Korean government website for 10 years, Lee said.
Prosecutors had demanded a 15-year prison term. The court, however, decided on a 10-year sentence because Flippin had repented, was still young and the rape was his first crime, Lee said.
Both prosecutors and the soldier have one week to appeal, he said.
About 28,500 U.S. troops are stationed in South Korea, and crimes involving them have fired anti-American sentiments among many South Koreans.
In 2002, the acquittals of two American soldiers whose armored vehicle ran over and killed two South Korean schoolgirls during training prompted massive nationwide protests against the U.S. military presence in the country.
Following the latest rape case, the U.S. military reinstated a curfew for U.S. soldiers and increased joint patrols by U.S. soldiers and South Korean police around U.S. installations in South Korea.
Tuesday’s sentencing is the longest prison term for an American soldier stationed in South Korea since 1993, when a U.S. soldier was sentenced to life in prison for murdering a South Korean bar employee, according to the Foreign Ministry. His life sentence was later reduced to 15 years, and the soldier was eventually released in 2006.