A former South Korean presidential contender was indicted on Wednesday on charges of raping his aide multiple times in the highest-profile case of the country's growing #MeToo movement.

Ahn Hee-jung – who was widely seen as a strong contender to replace President Moon Jae-in when his term ends in 2022 – was formally charged with rape and sexual harassment by abuse of power, a spokesperson at the Seoul Western District Prosecutors' Office said.

The spokesperson said Ahn's first hearing is expected next month.

Prosecutors opened an investigation into Ahn after his aide said in a television interview that he had raped her four times since she was hired last June.

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Fighting back tears, Kim Ji-eun, who was Ahn's personal assistant before becoming an aide in civil affairs, said last month that she had been unable to reject her boss in the rigid hierarchy of her office.

The 54-year-old politician has since stepped down from his post as the governor of South Chungcheong province and issued a formal apology but has claimed the sex was "consensual".

But detailed accounts from the victim as well as testimonies from witnesses provided evidence of Ahn's crimes, an official at the prosecutors' office told Yonhap news agency.

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