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Child 'Slaves' Were Allowed to Stay in Abuser's Home Despite May Arrest: DA

By Katie Honan | January 13, 2016 3:47pm
 Sook Yeong Park was arrested in May on child abuse charges.
Sook Yeong Park was arrested in May on child abuse charges.
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DNAinfo/Katie Honan

FLUSHING — A Queens woman arrested last week on charges of holding two Korean teens captive inside her home had been arrested 7 months earlier for abusing one of them — but authorities allowed her to keep the children anyway, according to court records.

Sook Yeong Park, 42, was arrested May 8, 2015 after she allegedly broke a glass dish over the leg of the then-13-year-old Korean boy who she had brought over to the US along with his sister in 2010, according to a criminal complaint.

The boy was treated at a nearby hospital for his injuries, and Park was charged with child abuse and issued a limited order of protection that allowed her to keep the boy and his sister in her 146th Street home, prosecutors said.

READ MORE: Korean Teens Held as 'Slaves' at Flushing Home Until School Intervened: DA

The City's Administration for Children's Services, which is responsible for monitoring cases of child abuse, said they could not discuss the case or explain why the children were allowed to remain with Park. They were removed from her home last week following the latest arrest, officials said.

Park took a plea deal in September, agreeing to take anger management and parenting courses and stay out of trouble in exchange for having her charges tossed out at a later date, prosecutors said.

Meanwhile, she was keeping the 16-year-old girl home from school for the entire month of September, forcing her to clean the house until the wee hours of the morning, and beating her when she didn't approve of the results, prosecutors later found.

The beatings continued until last week, when Park kicked her in the head and legs and cut off her hair in the latest fit of anger, prosecutors said.

The nightmare finally came to an end when the boy told officials at his middle school about the abuse, and they notified officials at Francis Lewis High School, where his sister attends, sources told DNAinfo.

Prosecutors said the school notified authorities, and Francis Lewis High School Assistant Principal Annette Palomino, who had noticed bruises on the girl's legs since the start of school and had grown concerned about her lengthy absences and tendency to fall asleep in class, went to the home last Thursday to demand the teens' passports. 

On Saturday, Park was arraigned on labor trafficking, assault and endangering the welfare of a child after the sibling's schools became aware of the abuse.

Prosecutors said the children were in protective custody, but it was not immediately clear what would happen to them next.