Exorcist gets 42-month jail term for fraud

Mainichi Shimbun, July 14, 1999

NAGOYA - A former religious foundation bigwig who made people pay to be exorcised from ghosts he said were haunting them was Tuesday sentenced to serve 42 months in jail for fraud.

The Nagoya District Court dismissed arguments by Keijiro Yano, 40, former head of the Myokakuji religious foundation that his actions were in line with his religious beliefs and convicted him of fraud. Yano is apparently poised to appeal the ruling.

"As a large-scale organized fraud, the incident had a large influence over society. Although the defendant played a major role in a spate of crimes carried out by high-ranking Myokakuji members, he shows no inclination of apologizing," Presiding Judge Makoto Kawahara said as he handed down the ruling.

Yano was convicted of conspiring with priests at one of the group's temples in Nagoya to defraud people. Saying they had psychic powers, Yano would tell people they were being haunted by aborted children or people who'd died a horrible death.

He would tell them the only way they could exorcise the evil spirits was to hand over money. Yano received about 14 million yen from December 1994 through April 1995.

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