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Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Noriko Asou | Court finds woman's molestation accusations mere groping at straws

A man accused of fondling the buttocks of a woman as they brushed by on a pedestrian crossing in Osaka's busy Umeda district has been found not guilty of molestation by the Osaka District Court.
"There is a possibility that the accidental contact may have been mistaken for a grope," Judge Eiichi Miyazaki said as he handed down the ruling.
The man, whose name is being withheld to protect his privacy, had mixed feelings about the verdict.
"A 'not guilty' ruling was perfectly natural. I'm just a little upset that the court didn't believe me when I said I never touched her," the man said.
Prosecutors said that the possibility of appeal remains.
"We will consult with higher authorities before deciding the appropriate steps to take," Koji Yoshikawa, a prosecutor at the Osaka District Public Prosecutors Office, said.
Court records showed that the man was arrested and charged with fondling the woman's buttocks after their paths crossed in Umeda at about 9:45 p.m. on June 30, 2003.
At the time of the incident, the woman screamed out and the man ran away. But a male colleague of the woman chased him down. The man, who said he had been startled by the woman's cry, which prompted him to run, denied having ever touched her.
Miyazaki, however, did not recognize the man's claim, but declared him not guilty anyway, noting that there had been differences in the testimony given by the woman and her male colleague that made their case difficult to believe.


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