A South Korean student who was sexually abused at a Pen Argyl academy is suing Pius X High School and the Diocese of Allentown.
In a lawsuit filed today in Northampton County, the student said she alerted a priest at Pius X of the sexual abuse four times during confession. The priest never alerted authorities, according to the lawsuit.
Matt Kerr, a spokesman for the diocese, declined comment. The diocese does not publicly comment on ongoing litigation, he said.
The student was one of dozens who lived at Ace Academy USA in order to attend class at Pius X. Getting into a South Korean college or university is extremely competitive, so the students attended American schools to better their chances of getting into an American college, ACE Academy Director Richard Kim said in 2007.
Three years later, Kim began sexually assaulting the 14-year-old girl left in his care, according to police. The abuse lasted from November 2010 to February 2011 before police were notified, the lawsuit stated.
Kim was sentenced to five to 10 years in state prison. His parents, Min and Yong Kim, who were heavily involved in running ACE Academy, pleaded guilty this year to failing to report suspected child abuse. Min and Yong Kim were sentenced to one year of probation.
The academy is also named in the suit. There is no public phone listing for the Kims and they couldn’t be reached for comment.
In the lawsuit, the student’s attorneys say the diocese and high school officials either knew or should have known that Richard Kim posed a risk to the students at the school. ACE and the Kim family also failed to protect the students entrusted to their care.
“We feel they had a major responsibility to these kids. They traveled thousands of miles to attend that school. You can’t just disclaim any responsibility,” said Howard Myerowitz, an attorney representing the victim.
Myerowitz said the abuse came to light only when the victim told a friend also attending ACE Academy. The friend alerted her mother back in South Korea, who alerted the victim’s mother, who contacted authorities, he said.
That differs somewhat from information offered by Assistant District Attorney Patricia Broscius, who prosecuted Richard Kim. During the sentencing, she also credited a Pius X priest with stepping forward and alerting authorities, she said. She confirmed tonight that the priest was willing to testify about the victim’s confession at trial if needed.