Yawata, Kyoto -- Christian cult leader Tamotsu Kin, under arrest for raping an elementary school girl, may have victimized more than 30 girls, sources close to the victims said.
Moreover, a high-ranking member has ordered most followers to prepare credit cards to extend donations to the cult, the sources said.
Police are grilling Kin, 61, who is also known as Tamotsu Nagata, in a bid to press further charges against him.
"There are certainly more than 20 victims, and the number may surpass 30," Kyoto Assembly Church clergyman Hisoka Murakami, a member of a group supporting the victims of the cult, said.
Kin, leader of the notorious Seishin Chuo Kyokai cult in Yawata, began raping female adult followers 14 years ago, but then started targeting young girls, according to Murakami. Kin summoned women to his room during breaks in church gatherings, and raped them.
Moreover, a high-ranking member of the cult ordered most of its followers in around February this year to get credit cards in order to withdraw 300,000 yen in cash per person to donate to the group. The church was facing financial crisis after about 170 followers quit the cult en masse in December last year.
The cult had also held religious seminars on numerous occasions and demanded each participant pay 30,000 yen. Kin bitterly criticized those who refused to pay the fee for lacking faith in the cult, and forcibly collected money from them.
Some followers were forced to withdraw all the money from their accounts to donate money. Another contributed tens of millions of yen to the cult. The money collected from followers was spent to repay loans the cult had obtained to buy land and buildings where it established its headquarters.
When Kin traveled abroad, he made an international call to a girl he allegedly raped and told her not to reveal the incident.
During his visit to the United States early this year for missionary work, he learned that one of his victims had protested to the cult for being raped by the leader. Kin called the cult's church and ordered the girl who happened to be there not to tell anybody about the rape.
"Keep silent about the latest case. This is to protect the church," Kin was quoted as telling the victim during the call.
Police said that the specific charge for which Kin was arrested occurred on Jan. 13, 2002, when he took into a church room a 12-year-old girl he knew was under 13, the age of consent, and raped her, telling the girl she was taking part in a holy ceremony.
Police said Kin continued raping the same girl at various times up until the autumn of last year.