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Man Pleads Guilty to Beating Ex-Girlfriend, Gets 2 Years


VAN NUYS — A Woodland Hills man pleaded guilty Friday to beating up his former girlfriend, but more serious charges were dropped as a part of a plea agreement after the Korean woman refused to return to the United States to testify, prosecutors said.

Michael Kyung Lim, 20, was sentenced to two years in prison by Van Nuys Superior Court Judge Michael R. Hoff. In return for his guilty plea, Deputy Dist. Atty. Carole Anne Chizever dismissed charges of kidnaping for sexual purposes, torture, rape and forcible oral copulation.

If he had been convicted on the torture charge alone, he faced a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Chizever said she still considers the case to be one of the most heinous she has ever seen, but without the victim's testimony she said it would have been difficult to get a conviction on any of the charges.

"Based on the state of evidence, it was the best possible choice," Chizever said of the settlement.

The prosecutor said that the 23-year-old woman moved back to Korea in June after testifying at Lim's preliminary hearing. Chizever said that in the Korean culture a woman who is raped brings shame to the family, and that family pressure may have kept the woman from returning to testify.

Lim's attorney, Harlan Braun, maintained that the incident was merely a fight among lovers that got out of control. He said prosecutors had filed more serious charges than the case warranted.

"I had offered (to accept) 24 months before the preliminary hearing," Braun said. "It was a complete waste of court time."

At the May preliminary hearing, the woman testified that she had met Lim in Korea before coming to the United States on a student visa to study at UCLA. The woman lived with Lim at his Owensmouth Avenue apartment, but moved out shortly before the incident because Lim was beating her, she testified.

On April 1, Lim allegedly abducted the woman from the Wilshire District and brought her to his apartment, where he allegedly beat her with a metal bar and sexually abused her for two days. He also allegedly used a kitchen knife to cut off most of her hair.

Lim was arrested after he took the woman to a supermarket to buy food so she could cook him dinner, but instead she broke away and ran to a store employee and pleaded for help. Lim was held by employees and other shoppers until police arrived and arrested him.

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