The sex scandal consuming Toronto’s Korean community began when six international students said they were repeatedly gang-raped by members of their small church. The accused allege that their eccentric pastor brainwashed the women to deflect attention from his own transgressions
One July day in 2007, an 18-year-old woman checked into her Toronto-bound flight at South Korea’s Incheon Airport. She was travelling light—she had with her one suitcase containing clothes for a range of seasons, some books and a favourite brand of face cream. She had been living with her grandparents in South Korea and was joining her mother, who had split with her father and moved to Toronto to study acupuncture three years earlier.
A court-ordered publication ban prevents me from identifying the woman, but I’ll call her Yeri. Her plan was to learn English at one of Toronto’s hagwons, Korean-run cram schools that cater to the thousands of young men and women who come to Canada on student visas each year. With command of the language, she would get into a better college in South Korea and ultimately, her family hoped, receive coveted job offers at multinationals.
From the airport, Yeri headed to a Bloor and Islington apartment building where her mother lived in one of six units leased by members of Jesus First, a Korean Presbyterian church run by a pastor named Jae Kap Song. Her mother belonged to the church and expected her to join, too. They’d share one of the apartment’s bedrooms. A second bedroom was shared by two male members of Jesus First.