BOISE — A Meridian man will spend at least five years — and could spend as many as 20 — in prison after a judge sentenced him Feb. 7 for attempting to rape a woman in 2018 in a Meridian church.
A jury in July convicted Hyoungsuk Kim, 52, of one count of battery to commit a serious felony. The charge stems from the morning of Oct. 3, 2018, when Kim tried to force himself on a woman inside her church. The woman, who will not be identified by the Idaho Press, said in court Friday she’d waited 16 months for Kim to face the consequences of his actions. For her, the attack was even more difficult to live with because it happened inside her church, a place where she normally felt safe.
“I hated myself with an intensity,” she said in court, through tears. “I felt that I had betrayed my family, church members, myself and God for me to trust you to be in the church building on that morning, Oct. 3, 2018. All I wanted was to die, die and die, because I thought God would never allow me to be hurt like this if I wasn’t such a terrible person. That is how I saw myself after you assaulted me. I felt so dirty about myself after you violated me.”
John Dinger, the case’s prosecutor, told 4th District Court Judge Cheri Copsey that the woman had succeeded in spite of all the difficulties she’d faced. She’d immigrated to the United States to build a better life for herself and her children, he said. He believed she’d done that.
Still, Dinger said he knew she placed some of the blame on herself, and she faced a cultural stigma against women who survived rape. It’s why he said he was infuriated by what he said was Kim’s attempt to disparage the woman’s reputation in the Korean-American community from his jail cell after his trial. Kim was, Dinger said, “continuing to violate her, to victimize her, just to be cruel, just to be awful.”
The woman said the rumors she heard caused “unimaginable pain and stress in my family, church members, and my life.”
On top of that, she said, she still has flashbacks so intense she has leave whatever she’s doing and seek out a place to cry and pray in private. She can’t change the past, she said, only come to terms with it.
“You are an important, painful, undeniable part of my story, and I do not consider that somebody knows me well … if they do not know about you,” she said. “I never wanted you to be a part of my life like this.”
Jonathan Loschi, Kim’s attorney, said while he didn’t doubt the woman faced stigma and negativity in the community, he didn’t believe Kim was driving it. He said he had reviewed the jail phone calls prosecutors pointed to and said he disagreed. Loschi also said he hadn’t found Kim to be a difficult client, and reminded the judge Kim didn’t have a criminal history.
“I truly do believe that whenever he gets out of prison … he’s not a person that’s going to be back before the court,” Loschi said.
During the hearing, Kim spoke, through a translator, mostly about his life in the Treasure Valley — how he and his wife fought through poverty and eventually, in 2016, opened a doughnut shop in Meridian. He wept throughout the address to the court, and spoke about how his wife was terminally ill.
One of the things Dinger told the judge he was glad to see on Friday was the woman’s ability to finally cast off some of the guilt she’d carried about the attack.
“I am absolving myself of all blame and responsibility for what you did to me. … It never was my fault,” she said.
She spent two minutes thanking the courtroom actors for the effort they put into the case, down to the sheriff’s deputy who brought her tissues when she cried during the trial. And in the end, she forgave Kim.
“I forgive you, Mr. Kim,” she said. “I pray that you will not do this again. I hope that you will continue to seek help.”