The Akita District Court on Friday ordered the Ho-no-Hana Sampogyo foot-reading cult and its founder to pay 5.5 million yen in damages to an Akita woman who claimed she was swindled out of millions yen in 1994.
Presiding Judge Masaki Sugimoto said founder Hogen Fukunaga, 55, pressured the woman in her 50s into paying a total of about 1.3 million yen to have her foot read in June 1994, telling her, ''You will have a serious disease in your 60s if you do not pay.''
Fukunaga also got her to pay 3.3 million yen the following month, telling her, ''You are worth being happier,'' and, ''Money will solve your problems,'' the ruling said.
Fukunaga has been charged with swindling a total of 150 million yen from 31 people in conspiracies with other cult members from 1994 to 1997, mainly at the cult's headquarters in Fuji, Shizuoka Prefecture, central Japan.
He pleaded not guilty to the allegations at his first hearing Oct. 12 at the Tokyo District Court. His real name is Teruyoshi Fukunaga.