Earlier this year, a man whose parents ran a Northampton County school for Korean exchange students went to prison for sexually assaulting one of their students.
Now, that husband and wife is being charged with covering up that assault.
Court records say Min Taek Kim, 62, and Yong Ran Kim, 51, whose program is based in Pen Argyl and was affiliated with Pius X High School in Bangor, also coached students to lie to authorities about the case – to portray the son as innocent and the female student as a liar.
The Kims did not believe the female student when she told them their son, Richard Kim, 35, was abusing her, the records say.
The records detail how the owners held an all-night session with students during which they were told to write down on notecards what to say to an investigator the next day – in the words of one student, to “follow a script.”
Another student recalled, “The Kims made them say false things about [the victim] to make her look bad and say false things about [the son] to make him look good.”
Still another student recalled the owners telling students to say the victim was “mentally ill and that she was not to be trusted.”
Another student recalled they were asked to falsify dates and times. What the owners told them, the student said, was “all lies and brainwashing.”
The students were exhausted by the all-night session but were forced to go to school the next day. A student said the owners gave the students coffee “even though they are not permitted to drink coffee.”
The Kims’ address is 21 N. Lobb Ave., Pen Argyl – the same address as the exchange program, ACE Education USA.
The records say the Kims have a secondary address of 721 Ferry St., Easton.
Min Taek Kim and Yong Ran Kim were charged with endangering the welfare of children. Min Taek Kim also was charged with persons required to report suspected child abuse.
They were arraigned by senior District Judge James Stocklas, sitting in for District Judge Douglas Schlegel of Wind Gap. They also waived their preliminary hearings, online records say. They were released on $10,000 unsecured bail each.
The female victim first talked to a caseworker from the Northampton County Children, Youth and Families Division in late February 2011 – after her mother in Korea contacted the agency.
Richard Kim was arraigned in July 2011, pleaded guilty in May 2012 in county court to one count of corruption of minors (sexual nature) and 17 counts of indecent assault and was sentenced in August to five to 10 years in state prison and 10 years’ probation.
In late November, Kim appealed his sentence, claiming it was excessive and that Judge Leonard Zito should have disclosed a visit Zito made to ACE in May, according to an Express-Times story.
Online court records show that on Dec. 5, Zito denied a motion for reconsideration of Kim’s sentence.
A criminal complaint filed by Det. Robert Righi of the county District Attorney’s office provides a timeline and additional detail:
--The victim told the Children and Youth caseworker she went to the Kims on Feb. 27, 2011 about their son abusing her. They made her stay home from school the next day and said she was required to meet with the Kims, their son and their daughter.
--At the family meeting, the sexual abuse was openly discussed and the son denied it. He became upset, was crying, threw himself on the floor and asked his parents to believe him and not the victim, she told the caseworker.
--The Kims said they did not believe her and would tell students to vouch for the son and “shun” the victim, who said she “continued to endure the harassment by [the son] and the other students.”
--She asked to be released from ACE but Min Taek Kim refused. She then told her mother what was going on. The mother called Children and Youth officials.
--The caseworker said the Kims “did not report sexual abuse of [a] female child to any authorities.”
--The son was removed from the program in May -- about the time the Children and Youth probe officially began. He moved to an apartment in Willow Grove, Montgomery County.
--The caseworker observed that the nine ACE students she interviewed – some with notecards and some without -- gave the same answers, although they claimed their recollections were their own.
--In October of this year, about three months after Richard Kim was sent to prison, Righi spoke with the victim. He said she no longer lives “in the Northampton County area.” She repeated much of what she told the caseworker in 2011.
--Between Oct. 16 and Oct. 24, Righi spoke to five former ACE students. One recalled that “Mr. Kim would sometimes scream and threaten the students if anything happened to [the son}.”