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Angelil Case Remains Closed

6 May 2003

by Jerry Fink and Erica Johnson

LAS VEGAS -- A jacket that a Las Vegas attorney said could implicate Rene Angelil, husband of singer Celine Dion, in a sexual assault three years ago has failed to persuade Metro police to reopen a criminal investigation they closed in January.

"It is our recommendation that the case remained closed," Lt. Jeff Carlson, of Metro's sexual assault unit, said Monday.

Carlson also said the attorney, Robert Langford, could get the coat at his convenience.

"The evidence is available for pickup at our evidence room," he said.

The long, red, traditional Korean coat was turned over to the sex crimes unit on April 10 by Langford and Ae Hoe Kwon, 50, husband of Yun Keyong Sung, 47.

Langford represents the Pasadena couple, who were indicted by a Clark County grand jury on extortion charges in March.

Kwon is free on $10,000 bail. Sung, a native of South Korea, is being held at the Clark County Detention Center on unrelated immigration violation charges.

The coat is alleged by Langford to contain DNA that could support allegations by Sung that Angelil raped her in her hotel room at the Imperial Palace on March 18, 2000.

The Southern California couple have been charged with attempting to extort more than $13 million from Angelil last year when they filed a civil suit, and then a criminal claim, alleging that Angelil beat and raped Sung.

Angelil, in an exclusive interview that appeared in Monday's Las Vegas Sun, said he paid the couple $2 million in May 2000 because he didn't want the stress of the false allegations in his life at that time. He was undergoing treatment for throat cancer. Dion was attempting to become pregnant through in vitro fertilization.

According to the settlement, Sung and Kwon were to say nothing more about the case, and any evidence was to be turned over to Angelil's attorney, Martin Singer of Los Angeles.

However, three years lapsed before Kwon turned the coat over to police.

Angelil said the couple at first alleged only that he fondled her in an elevator. Then, when they came back two years later asking to renegotiate the settlement, they claimed Sung had been beaten and raped.

Angelil denied assaulting Sung, saying he thought she was a fan who wanted him to come to her hotel room to meet another fan who was handicapped. He also noted that the night he met Sung, while he was gambling at Caesars Palace, she was wearing black pants and a black jacket.

Sheriff Bill Young said this morning that Metro Police did not test the jacket for DNA evidence.

"It's obviously been tampered with. We don't know where that thing has been," the sheriff said. "There are pieces cut out of it, and it would be useless in court."

Carlson said the the sex crimes unit recommended that the case be dropped, and Young agreed.

"We didn't have enough information to even file a case," Carlson said. "I'm not going to even delve into the realities of having something given to us after 3 1/2 years."

Detectives said they'd asked Sung for any information that could be helpful to the investigation when Sung first came forward with her allegations, but that she was uncooperative at that time.

Langford said he was disappointed that the case was closed without what he considered a thorough investigation.

"I'm shocked that the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department would not conduct a fair and adequate investigation on a charge as serious as rape," he said.

Angelil's attorney, David Chesnoff, said last week he considers the criminal case closed.

Sung is scheduled to appear in court on May 14 to renew a bail motion, Langford said.

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