Lee gets 30 years in sexual assault case

By Queena Yen ,The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan — The Taiwan High Court yesterday sentenced socialite Justin Lee (李宗瑞) to an accumulated 79 years and seven months for sexually assaulting 20 women, also ordering him to pay compensation totaling NT$27.45 million to 17 victims from the second trial.

The Taiwan High Court, however, pointed out that as the nation limits maximum sentences to 30 years, it therefore handed Lee a maximum combined sentence of 30 years behind bars. The whole case can still be appealed in the Supreme Court. According to the court, Lee committed a string of sexual assaults and filmed himself raping his victims after spiking their drinks between 2009 and 2012, committing egregious violations of the Criminal Code of the Republic of China. Among the victims were two of Lee’s former girlfriends and their sisters. Two victims were his close friends and 11 were other friends. He also assaulted acquaintances that he had just met.

The court deemed that Lee’s misdoings caused his victims psychological and physical trauma. He even sent the video to victims after committing the crimes, which shows his cruel intentions, the court said.

Compared to the result of the first sentence, in which Lee was sentenced to 18 years and six months in prison for sexually assaulting nine women, and another three years and 10 months for filming women without their consent, the second sentence is much heavier.

The court further explained that the punishment was lighter in the first trial because Lee denied all charges, claiming that some women were willing to be taped and have sexual intercourse with him. However, in the second trial, the judge believed he had lied in the first trial and decided to issue a heavier sentence to Lee.

The court pointed out that Lee said he filmed the victims to make some memories for himself. However, the court considered that Lee was aware of the risk that the tapes would be disclosed to the public and cause damage to his victims. In addition, since video recording technology is more convenient and accessible these days, it is even easier for these kinds of files to spread. Considering the fact that Lee’s behavior not only harmed the victims while he was committing the assault but also seriously impacted them afterward via the recordings, the court believes there is no reason to issue a lighter sentence. The court also considered Lee’s daily behaviors. Although Lee usually goes to nightclubs, he also did volunteer work and went abroad for charity in the past. All of these factors were considered before sentencing.

Responses to the Sentence After the ruling, Tsou Chih-hung (鄒志鴻), Lee’s lawyer, said they will appeal the verdict. In addition, he also said that Lee’s father was shocked after learning that the court issued Lee a 30-year prison sentence. However, one of the victim’s lawyers, Lai Fang-yu (賴芳玉), said that Lee kept claiming that what he did is nothing since he was only following the culture of clubbing. The heavy sentence may have some positive impact in correcting these negative values. She also stated that the heavy sentence is delayed justice for the victims.