Soldier gets trial in S. Korean subway harassment case
SEOUL — One of six U.S. soldiers accused of harassing a Korean woman on a subway train earlier this year has requested a formal trial.
Pvt. Damian Roedl, 20, was fined the equivalent of almost $1,000 by summary order for “insult/indecent act by compulsion/assault,” according to the 2nd Infantry Division. But he believes he is not guilty and the fine is too large, a Uijeongbu District Court official said. His case is scheduled to be heard Aug. 19.
Railway police said the soldiers were acting up on a Dongducheon-to-Incheon train the night of Feb. 2 — playing a “boom box” loudly while dancing and shouting — when a Korean woman in her early 20s asked them to quiet down.
The soldiers then verbally and physically harassed the woman while taking video and photos of her, police said, adding that one or more of them may have touched her breasts.
Others on the subway car called police. The soldiers got off at the Mangwolsa station and pulled the woman onto the train platform, according to reports. Three of the men were arrested there while the other three left before authorities arrived.
The incident received national media attention here and prompted 2ID to bolster soldiers’ cultural awareness. A U.S. military official apologized to Uijeongbu Mayor Ahn Byung Yong.
Korean authorities waived jurisdiction for two soldiers, and two others settled out of court, 2ID said.
Pfc. Arthur Goodman, 20, was fined the equivalent of almost $2,000 on the same charge that is pending against Roedl, the 2ID said. He opted to pay up.
The 2ID previously reported that the commander of its Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion imposed “non-judicial punishment” under Article 15 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice on two of the soldiers for underage drinking prior to the confrontation.
That resulted in a reduction in rank for one soldier, and 45 days of extra duty and 45 days of restriction for both, according to 2ID.
The battalion commander is waiting for final disposition of the case by Korean authorities before deciding what, if any, additional action to take against those implicated in the incident, 2ID said.