2ID soldiers get suspended sentences for disturbance at theme park
SEOUL, South Korea — Three 2nd Infantry Division soldiers were given suspended sentences Wednesday — essentially putting them on probation — for causing a drunken disturbance at a South Korean water park.
The division later issued a statement that said situations such as the May 31 incident at Everland theme park’s Caribbean Bay attraction undermine the volunteer work other 2ID soldiers perform in the community, from serving in soup kitchens to distributing coal and volunteering at orphanages.
“I will not allow careless acts of indiscipline to tarnish 2ID reputation and our strong relationship with our Korean neighbors,” division commander Maj. Gen. Thomas S. Vandal said in the statement.
Three Camp Casey-based soldiers — Pvt. Marcus Cobb, Pfc. Alex Wilkerson and Spc. Nicholas Myers — were sentenced to six months on convictions of obstruction of performance of official duties.
Myers also was convicted of committing an indecent act by force and received a 10-month sentence, according to the Suwon District Court. The sentences for all three were suspended for two years. The maximum sentence for the obstruction charge is five years, and the indecent act charge carried a maximum 10-year term.
Police have said the soldiers, who admitted wrongdoing last month, began smoking at the park, and a female employee was guiding them to a designated smoking area when one of them touched her shoulder, waist and back, according to previous statements from the Yongin Dongbu Police chief of criminal affairs.
Authorities said a second soldier gave a worker at the park’s information desk a high-five but then did not let go of her hand and told her she was sexy. They said that although the soldier who had touched the other female employee moved his hips or buttocks, the second soldier made a remark that the worker construed as sexual in nature and humiliated her.
One of the soldiers then, according to police, punched a male employee in the face, kicked him and refused to cooperate with authorities. An officer also was punched and spit in his face. The soldiers told police they were drunk and remembered little of what happened at the park.
Police also said the soldiers had been shooting at least one water pistol filled with alcohol at other patrons and stealing their food.
Suwon District Court Judge Choi Chul-min said the soldiers’ lack of prior criminal records, admissions of wrongdoing and expressions of regret for their actions played a role in determining their sentences. The fact that they had been drinking — something that, in Korean courts, often leads to a lighter sentence because defendants are thought to be unable to control themselves — did not excuse their behavior.
“What they did is not minor,” Choi said, referring to the assault on the police officer.
2ID said it has cooperated fully with local police to make sure the soldiers were given due process under South Korean law and the Status of Forces Agreement, which sets legal protections for members of the U.S. military community stationed on the peninsula.