Kyoto -- A clergyman of a Christian church in Yawata, Kyoto Prefecture, was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of sexually molesting a 12-year-old girl who was a member of his congregation, police said. Tamotsu Kin, 61, a Japanese-born South Korean national who heads the Central Church of Holy God, denies the allegations.
He is suspected of molesting the girl in his office at the church around 1 a.m. on Jan 13, 2002, saying he would test her religious devotion, the police said. The girl was staying overnight with her mother at the church for an early morning service.
Kin is said to have continued the abuse until last fall and threatened her not to go public. The girl's mother went to police last month.
On Tuesday, former members of the congregation formed a victims group, preparing to file a complaint in connection with similar molestation cases involving about 10 other girls.
Police also served an arrest warrant Wednesday for a female staff member of the religious group and searched the church, Kin's home in Hirakata, Osaka Prefecture, and a few other locations in connection with the sexual abuse case.
According to the church's website, Kin, who was born in Sennan, Osaka, founded the Central Church of Holy God in 1987 after he finished a seminary in South Korea. The church was registered with the Kyoto prefectural government the same year.
Kin was said to be preaching Christian teachings at the church under the name of Tamotsu Nagata.
The police say the church had around 3,000 members but has seen a large number of people leave since allegations surfaced last December that female members were assaulted in the church.
The group has about 20 churches in Kyoto, Tokyo, Osaka, Yokohama and other areas across Japan, according to its website.