Woman sues agency for sex assault

LAWRENCEVILLE - A Korean woman who resides in Duluth has filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking $5 million from the Department of Homeland Security for being groped by an immigration officer.

Sang Yi, 46, claims that Officer Kelvin Renard Owens made a pass at her during an interview two years ago for her naturalization application at the Atlanta District Office of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

The suit alleges that Owens asked, "If I let you pass, what are you going to give me?" and then grabbed her breasts. She demanded to know whether she passed the interview, and Owens didn't answer, the lawsuit states.

When Yi then stood to leave, the lawsuit claims, Owens blocked the door, grabbed her hand and placed it over his genitals. She shooed away his advances and he then tried to touch her inappropriately, according to the lawsuit.

Yi immediately reported the incident to federal authorities, and Owens was placed on administrative leave. He pleaded guilty March 4, 2005, in federal court to a charge of sexual assault and was sentenced to spend every weekend for six months in prison followed by five years of probation.

Yi has lived in the United States for 15 years and is still attempting to gain American citizenship, according to her attorney, Kenneth S. Levine of Levine & Eskandari in Atlanta.

"We are quite surprised by how indifferent and unsympathetic the Atlanta office (of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) has been to our client this entire time as far as it comes to her citizenship," Levine. "We feel that the immigration service and the officer need to be held accountable for their actions. Their denial of liability demanded action on our part."