Five months after bringing the sex abuse charges, Young Sun Cho and her boyfriend, who had encouraged her to come forward, killed themselves in their Los Angeles apartment.
"There is no doubt in my mind that Young Sun killed herself due to the abuse," Detective Kim Brown of the Fountain Valley Police Department wrote in a report. "In talking with her, she was very disturbed about the sexual abuse and the methods of fear used by their father to make her submit. The torment he caused fueled her decision to take her own life."
Edward Cho's younger daughter testified in his subsequent criminal trial on rape and sexual molestation charges, and the testimony of Young Sun Cho at an earlier hearing was read to the jury. Both said that their father told them that such sexual activity was permitted by the Bible, and that they should pretend he was a movie star during sex.
During the custody proceedings, Edward Cho vigorously denied the abuse charges, and at his criminal trial said he had not forced his daughter to have the abortions. On the witness stand, he called the charges "unthinkable," the accusations "gross, heinous things."
Edward Cho steadfastly maintained that the crimes never occurred. Speaking through an interpreter, he said at his sentencing that sending him to prison would be "a sad miscarriage of justice."
His younger daughter, Edward Cho said, was "imagining these things. . . . She wants to get back at me, to get her revenge. . . . I have tried to be a good father."
Edward Cho's attorney, John Barnett, invoked the Salem witch trials, telling the jury at Cho's criminal trial that Cho's older daughters were "sophisticated, and they (were) cunning, and they knew what they wanted. And what they wanted was not vindication . . . hat they wanted was money. . . . There was not any sex . . . that didn't happen."
When he was out on bail awaiting trial, Edward Cho had assembled the two-hour home video of happy family occasions spanning a decade. He put it together "because he thought if the jury had an opportunity to see it, it would basically convince everybody that they had a happy family life and everything was normal," said Erica Kim, his civil attorney.
But Barnett said he did not attempt to introduce the tape at the criminal trial because he felt the sequences showing the Cho children bowing to him--in one case in exchange for money--might be misinterpreted by jurors and damage Cho's case.
On May 5, 1993, a jury found Cho guilty of 25 counts of sexual abuse against three of his children. He was acquitted of molesting his son.
The civil lawsuit was filed on behalf of four of Cho's six children: the two minors, who are now in foster care, a daughter who is in college and Young Sun Cho, who committed suicide after the lawsuit was filed.
The lawsuit asks for $13 million or whatever remains of Edward Cho's real estate holdings. The children also sued Edward Cho's wife for allegedly allowing the molestation to occur. Depositions in the case are now being taken.
Attorneys for the Cho estate and his widow have responded by blaming his two older daughters for a plot to acquire his wealth--a charge they deny.
But money--even a great deal of money--would not have been enough temptation for the Cho children to expose themselves to the shame that is experienced by victims of incest and sexual abuse, experts say.
"Dragging your family in, bringing such a suit is a big disgrace," said Dr. Eun Mee Kim, associate professor of sociology at USC. "No amount of money can restore their name."
Yet, to the day he was found hanging in his jail cell from a noose of braided, torn bedsheets, Edward Cho maintained that what happened to him could happen to any stern Korean parent.
"If I were to go to jail as a criminal," he wrote in a letter to the Orange County United Korea Student Assn., "then our 30 million Koreans should all go to prison."