Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Prof Convicted of Child Molestation to Sue Justice Ministry

The American professor who left Korea rather than be detained further pending a review for deportation after it was discovered he’d been convicted in 1997 for inappropriate behavior with girls under the age of 14 wants to sue the Justice Ministry for the right to return to Korea and get his job back:

An American professor, who was forced to leave South Korea due to a past child molestation conviction in the United States, plans to file a lawsuit against the Korean immigration authorities.

“I will fight against the Immigration Office for my right to return to Korea and take my job back. My university still wants to work with me,” Mark McDowell, an English professor at Hannam University in Daejeon, told The Korea Times in a telephone interview, Tuesday.

Korean authorities recently discovered that McDowell had been convicted of child molestation in 1996 when he was a middle school teacher in the United States. He was jailed for six months in 1997 for inappropriate behavior with girls under the age of 14.

McDowell has taught English in Korea as a teacher and professor for the last 10 years.

He claims his lawyer did not file a formal objection to deportation on time, and he wants to know how horrible Immigration has treated him:

The professor said he was unfairly treated by the Immigration Office. “My convictions have been legally expunged, meaning I no longer even have to say I was convicted of anything at all. I have had no trouble in Korea for nearly 10 years. I appeal to Korean people for their support in fighting this evil thing that the Immigration Office has done to me,” McDowell said in an email.

“I want the people to know the truth, and the horrible way the office has treated me. The office threatened to lock me up for the duration of my `formal objection to deportation,”’ he said. “That’s is completely illegal because it can only send people to its detention center if they have good reason to believe that person will flee.”

I’m not sure if that last part is true, but I wouldn’t count on a a lot of Korean support… expunged record or not. For that matter, don’t count on a lot of expat support, either.

Anyway, legal struggles require money, and he’s taking donations:

McDowell is now staying in another Asian nation. He is seeking donations to file a “Writ of Habeas Corpus” to challenge the original convictions by hiring an attorney in the United States, which costs over $10,000.

How to send money was not included in the article.

When this story first broke, “The Guy” — who I’m pretty certain is the actual guy — recounted in the comment section his version of what happened to earn his conviction on three counts of “Child Annoyance and Molestation.” Read it and draw your own judgments.

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