Cops snare bat-attack cultists for bashing

Mainichi Daily News/November 21, 1999

OYAMA, Tochigi - Eight followers of a Shizuoka-based cult have been arrested after abducting a woman from her home to make her attend the cult's seminars and assaulting and injuring three men in the process, police said on Saturday.

Masakazu Tochigi, 29, a Hono Hana Sanpogyo cult member from Oyama, was nabbed on suspicion of assault and battery of the unnamed 25-year-old woman's father and his two friends at her home in Nogi shortly after 2 a.m. on Oct. 29.

The names of the victims are being withheld to protect their identity. Tochigi's fellow cult member, Makoto Takeuchi, 30, from Chiba, and Eiji Murata, 36, from Nagano's Murata, were also arrested on the same charge along with five teen-age boys, including a 16-year-old high school boy, whose names cannot be revealed under the Juvenile Law.

In an attempt to force the woman to rejoin the cult, Tochigi and seven others allegedly stormed into her home with metal baseball bats in their hands and bashed the men before driving away with her.

The three men suffered minor injuries, while the woman was later found unharmed in central Oyama on the afternoon of Oct. 29.

Tochigi and the woman got to know each other at a company where the cult member had a part-time job. After going out together for a while, Tochigi solicited the woman to participate in seminars organized by Hono Hana Sanpogyo, investigators said.

The woman took part in two seminars, and had paid a 1.2 million yen "training fee" to attend another scheduled on Oct. 30. But then the woman became reluctant to join the cult, prompting Tochigi to abduct her, police said.

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