February 23, 2005 | 11 Comments
Satsumasendai, Kagoshima, Japan, February 21, 2005
Special to The Raving Atheist
A Shinto priest accused of indecent assault for massaging the breasts of a 15-year-old girl was found not guilty after a court here ruled that his act was a “religious activity.”
“There is room to accept that his act was a religious activity, and reasonable doubt in saying he possessed sexual intent,” Judge Atsushi Tomita said in handing down the ruling at the Sendai branch of the Kagoshima District Court last Wednesday.
Prosecutors had demanded that the 36-year-old priest, Ryoichi Sakamoto, be jailed for two years over his actions.
Sakamoto was arrested and charged with indecent assault after he touched the breasts and other body parts of the junior high school girl at a religious facility adjoining his home in October 2002 and December that year.
During the trial, Sakamoto admitted that he touched the body of the girl, but said it was “a religious activity in order to help her,” and maintained that he was not guilty.
In giving the ruling, Tomita acknowledged that Sakamoto had touched the breasts of the girl, but said of his actions, “(In the sect to which the defendant belongs) there are some cases in which the skin is touched directly, and one cannot say that this did not constitute a religious activity.”
Judge Tomita observed that it would be highly unusual for a man in his mid-thirties to be attracted to the uncovered, budding mammaries of a female scarcely out of childhood. “Gentlemen are attracted to women their own age,” Tomita noted, crediting Sakamoto’s testimony that no impure thoughts crossed his mind as the girl’s pubescent breast-meat melted into his slowly-kneading palms. The judge further acquitted Sakamoto of caressing the warm, creamy flesh of the teenager’s naked buttocks, finding that no reasonable jurisprudence could interpret such conduct as other than a protected religious practice.
American courts were quick to follow suit. On Friday, the United States Supreme Court ruled that state statutes prohibiting Catholic priests from teasing the firm, blooming young stalks of manhood out of the underpants of trembling altar boys unconstitutionally infringed upon the free exercise of religion.