Pastor Given 20 Years for Sexual Abuse / Defendant Shows No Remorse As Victims Attempt to Cope with Mental Scars

The Yomiuri Shimbun [Japan]
February 21, 2006

The former head of a church in Yawata, Kyoto Prefecture, was given a 20-year prison sentence at Kyoto District Court on Tuesday for sexually abusing seven young female congregants.

Presiding Judge Takeshi Uegaki said that the crimes--22 separate charges--committed by Tamotsu Kin, 62, former head of the Central Church of Holy God, were extremely malicious and unprecedented sex offenses. Uegaki also said Kin bore grave criminal responsibility.

The 20-year sentence, which had been demanded by prosecutors, was the maximum imprisonment for a definite term before the Penal Code was revised in January last year.

Sources said the ruling is the first to acknowledge sexual abuse against women aged 13 or older committed by a person who neither used intimidation nor violence.

Uegaki said that because Kin used religious teachings to get the victims to submit to abuse, the cases should be acknowledged as sexual abuse.

In 16 of the 22 cases, Kin was indicted for sexual offenses against girls as young as 13. The trial focused on whether he had controlled the girls through preaching and other means of influence, making them unable to resist his advances.

In the ruling, the judge pointed out that Kin was a symbol of awe and respect close to God for the girls as he convinced them that if they did not obey his instructions, they would go to hell and suffer forever.

The judge acknowledged the girls had had no alternative but to obey because they could not refuse his requests.

He further said that the crimes left the girls mentally scarred.

The judge also mentioned that Kin had attempted to cover up his crime by forbidding the girls to talk about his offenses, and by making them sign a vow saying Kin had committed no offense against them before his crimes were first brought to light.

"[Kin's] behavior after committing the crime was terrible," he said.

During the trial, Kin said he would not fight over the facts but did not explain his actions. He had also given false statements about his preaching, according to the judge.

"[Kin] isn't aware how serious his crime and its effects are. He showed no remorse," the judge said. "He committed the crime simply out of lust. There is no room for considering the circumstances for his selfish motives."

Kin had been indicted on 22 charges of sexually abusing and attempting to abuse seven girls aged 12 to 16 in the pastor's room at the church and other places between March 2001 and September 2004.


No apology

Consistent with his behavior since his arrest, Kin did not apologize to his victims Tuesday.

As the ruling was given, Kin, wearing a black suit, stared at the judge without emotion, occasionally nodding or looking down when the reasons for the ruling were being read aloud but never changing his facial expression.

One of the victims has become distrustful of men. "I've given up on my daughter's marriage. I'll live with her all my life," her mother said.

The mother of another victim said after hearing the ruling at home, "My daughter did not wish for his long-term imprisonment, only his remorse."

Her daughter had agonized over dreams of Kin. Despite her suffering, she has gained strength, at least on the surface, by commiserating with other victims.

In July, the Central Church of Holy God sold the lot on which the church stood and its headquarters in Yawata. Dozens of congregants have continued their activities elsewhere in the city. According to sources, the pastor is still influential at the church.

According to a group supporting the victims and other sources, more than 200 congregants at the headquarters and about 10 branches across Japan quit the church around the time Kin's crimes surfaced. Some of them have subsequently fallen into depression.


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