Man tried to rape neighbour for 6 minutes after she fell asleep, restrained her during struggle

Selina Lum
The Straits Times
May 13, 2024

A South Korean engineer saw his inebriated neighbour sleeping by the pool of their serviced apartment compound and tried to rape her.

The 25-year-old woman, an exchange student from Sweden, was shocked when she woke up to find the man on top of her. She repeatedly told him to stop and managed to get away after a scuffle.

On May 13, Cho Tae Kwon, now 51, was sentenced to a jail term of eight years and 4½ months, after he pleaded guilty to one charge each of attempted rape and outrage of modesty.

Two other charges, for molesting the victim, were taken into consideration.

Cho’s sentence included jail time in lieu of caning. He cannot be caned as he is above the age of 50.

He was 49 years old when he entered Singapore on June 20, 2022, on a short-term social visit pass.

He was working as an engineer at Hyundai Motor Group Innovation Centre and staying in a unit on the ninth floor with four other colleagues.

There is a gag order to protect the identities of the victim and her friends, as well as regarding the location of the offence.

The victim was staying in a unit on the 14th floor with five other students. She and Cho were strangers.

Deputy Public Prosecutors Claire Poh and Natalie Chu said in sentencing submissions: “It is tragic that a young woman was senselessly violated in a place where she should have felt safe and secure.”

The High Court was told that on the evening of Sept 9, 2022, Cho went to his colleagues’ 13th floor apartment for dinner and drinks to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival.  

He headed back to his unit at about 12.30am on Sept 10, 2022.

The victim returned to her flat around 2.50am after she and her flatmates went clubbing.

She then left the unit, bought some groceries and headed towards the pool area on the fourth floor.

The events were partially captured by surveillance cameras at the pool area as well as inside the lift and at the lift lobbies.

At the pool deck, she called her boyfriend before falling asleep on a couch at about 3.50am.

At around 4.25am, Cho headed towards the pool area and noticed the woman lying sideways on the couch.

When she did not respond to his touch, he decided to take advantage of her.

Cho touched her buttocks, thighs and waist, and straddled her. When she remained unconscious, he became emboldened and took off her underwear.

DPP Poh said: “At this point, the victim was very groggy and temporarily sat up. However, as she was still under the influence of alcohol and very sleepy, she had no strength to resist the accused.”

Cho tried to rape the woman for six minutes, but did not succeed.

The woman started to regain consciousness and put up resistance, but he pulled her towards him.

When they both fell off the couch in the scuffle, he continued to restrain her and touched her buttocks.

The woman managed to leave the pool area at about 4.45am with her belongings as well as Cho’s shorts.

Cho went back to his unit to get a pair of shorts, before taking the lift back down to the pool. He then took the lift to the 14th floor, but was unable to find the woman, and eventually returned to his unit at about 5.10am.

The woman woke up at about 11am, but could not remember precise details of what had happened to her. She cried as she told her flatmates that she had been sexually assaulted at the pool area.

Shortly after, she alerted the guest service officer about the matter. The officer reported the case to the police at about 9.30pm on the same day after reviewing the surveillance footage.

The Straits Times

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