Ex-cultists may sue over sexual harassment

The Yomiuri Shimbun/July 31, 2006

A group of former members of a cult organization called Setsuri (providence) is considering filing a criminal complaint against the cult leaders on charges of sexual assault.

Lawyers representing the victims said the founder of the cult, Jong Myong Suk, 61, repeatedly assaulted or sexually molested female members, telling them he was conducting a "health checkup." The lawyers said at a press conference in Tokyo on Saturday that they have testimonies from more than 10 women.

The South Korean cult leader visited Japan many times before an international warrant was issued for him by prosecutors in Seoul on suspicion of sexually assaulting women in South Korea in the 1990s.

Jong established his organization in 1979 in South Korea and started recruiting members in Japan around 1987, mostly at college campuses in the Kanto and Kansai regions, according to the lawyers.

There are more than 2,000 members in Japan, and members tend to be "youths who are pure and serious in nature," said a 65-year-old Christian pastor in Okayama, who has helped about 30 members to leave the cult group.

The cult owns several apartments called "churches" in various parts of the nation, the lawyers said.

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