On April 6, Tamotsu Kin, the 61-year-old leader of the Seishin Chuo Kyokai (Central Church of Holy God) in Kyoto, was arrested on suspicion of sexually molesting a 12-year-old girl. He was about to leave Japan for the U.S.
Kin is suspected of molesting the girl in his office at the church at around 1 a.m. on Jan. 13, 2002, saying he was going to test her religious devotion, the police said. The girl was staying overnight with her mother at the church to attend an early morning service
Kin is said to have continued abusing the girl until last fall, while warning her not to go public. The girl's mother went to police last month.
According to the police, Kin invited the girl to his room by telling her: "I would like to test your faith," and molested her, saying "this is a celebration." Since the girl believed that Kin was almost godlike for as long as she could remember, she could not say anything about what happened to anyone. She told police that Kin had said to her: "If you talk about this to anyone, you will go to hell."
Since arresting Kin, Kyoto police have received nearly 10 complaints from young girls who also said they were molested. Police suspect that the actual number of molestations may be more than 100, including adult believers who have left the organization.
Kin, a South Korean national born in Izumi Minami city in Osaka, studied theology in Korea for four years from 1982. After returning to Japan, he engaged in missionary work for a year, formed his church in 1987 and named himself Paul Tamotsu Nagata. In 2000, he established the headquarters for his church in the city of Yawata, Kyoto. The alleged sexual molestations were carried out in a facility adjacent to the church.
Some neighbors thought the religious group might have been Aum Shinrikyo (now renamed Aleph). Despite the misgivings of the local community, the cult expanded and established about 20 branches in cities such as Tokyo, Yokohama, Osaka, Kanazawa, Tottori and so on across Japan within a few years. At its peak, the cult had around 3,000 believers.
According to one preacher who left the cult, "Kin had serious financial problems because he was opening branches all over Japan. He would hold seminars for his followers, charging them 30,000-50,000 yen per person. Some of them borrowed money from consumer loan companies to contribute up to 7 million yen to the church."
Despite the financial difficulties, believers remained faithful to Kin because they were totally mind controlled by him. That's why the sexual molestation was not revealed for a long time, say observers.
How did Kin control his followers? One former female member of the cult says: "Daily activities started at 5 a.m. with a Mass. The senior leaders were adamant about everyone attending each morning. Therefore, many of them could not go home, so they stayed at the facility. Their outside contact with family and friends was cut off. In addition, because they had assignments all day, they were exhausted and lost their ability to distinguish between right and wrong. They just did what they were told to do."
The woman, who claims that she also was molested, says: "When there was no-one around, Kin would ask one of the girls to bring a cup of tea to his room. The women knew what was going to happen, but they couldn't escape. One time when I went to his room, he said to me 'Take your clothes off. I would like to examine how faithful you are.' When I resisted the order, he threatened me by saying 'Then you will go to hell.'
"As far as I know, the victims' ages ranged from elementary school girls to 25-year-old women. Sometimes, he invited two women at the same time. He never used condoms either. There was a fear that one of the girls might get pregnant."
Another former member adds: "He molested the young girls in his office; with older women, he did it when they went on missionary trips abroad. What is more unforgivable is that once he learned a couple of his followers were getting married, he molested the woman on purpose. All his victims looked very young and had a round face. That was his type."
Psychologist Seiko Konishi said, "If the victims are still suffering from mind control, the investigation will take longer. As the realization sinks in that they were deceived by a priest, their emotional damage is severe and they definitely need counseling."
The mental scars that Kin has left on his victims and their families are deep. He used to tell them they would go to hell if they did not obey him. However, it looks like he is the one heading to hell.