In a highly unusual case of a defendant being found innocent in a Japanese court, a man charged with groping a girl has been cleared after a judge decided that he could not have dashed 6m and groped her all in the 1 second period he was out of view of a security camera – although the fact he was jailed for 6 months, as long as the sentence sought by prosecutors, rather renders the verdict moot.
The case began with a 40-year-old man being accused of groping a 17-year-old girl on a bicycle one morning in front of a Miyazaki prefecture convenience store.
The alleged crime took place on the 14th of September, but it was not until the 3rd of October that police moved to charge and arrest the man for violating the prefecture’s anti-groping ordinances.
He denied the charges, and prosecutors then sought a massive 6 month prison sentence for an offence which usually attracts suspended sentences and fines even for repeat offenders.
The case went to trial, and aside from the girl’s testimony the only evidence involved was security camera footage from the convenience store. This showed the man walking in front of the store and then apparently turning in the same direction as the girl, who disappeared from the screen followed by the man.
In total he was off camera for less than a second, but the girl was some 6m ahead of him when he disappeared.
Amazingly, in spite of this rock solid evidence the judge ruled that as “it was impossible for him to have covered 6m in under a second, and the woman’s testimony is at odds with the evidence” he could not be guilty. He was ruled innocent.
Unfortunately, the man’s life had already been destroyed by this point, said his defence: “As he has been held in prison for 6 months, he has since lost his job – a case like this should never have been brought so lightly.”
The prosecutors refused to comment as they say they are considering whether to appeal the verdict and try for a 1-second dash-grope conviction again.
There is considerable outrage about the case, both for the length of time he was held on such a relatively minor charge and the flimsy evidence:
“And what happens to the girl who made the false accusation? Won’t she be punished?”
“No. She’s not committed any crime…”
“6m in 1 second might be possible for an athlete?”
“He teleported over there and groped her. Happens all the time.”
“A 1 second grope is a bit hard to believe in any case.”
“I’m curious about why he turned and walked back…”
“Who knows? To go back to his car or something?”
“Sounds like the prosecutor had it in for him. Japanese prosecutors are just nuts.”
“He was arrested and prosecuted a month after the supposed groping, not at the scene when it happened. However you look at it, this case is some bullshit made up by a cop.”
“And solely because he appeared on a convenience store security camera.”
“Lucky for him the camera was there, or was it?”
“6 months of detention? I bet a lot of innocent people plead guilty rather than be held for longer than the sentence they’d get for the plea whilst the police try to bully a confession out of them.”
“They normally get off with a fine if they admit it. Even if you win the court case, in a case like this they will make sure you lose the battle.”
“It hardly matters. If it gets out that you’ve been convicted, even if only fined, you’ll be sacked immediately. Even if you confess immediately, they may hold you whilst trying to pin more charges on you, and you won’t be able to explain your absence from work without a doctor’s note. Of course, none of this applies to police, teachers and other civil servants.”
“They are looking for excuses to sack you. In my company, somebody was sacked for a speeding offence.”
“I thought they can only hold you for 20 days?”
“The courts can authorise as many extensions to that detention as they want, and do so almosy 100% of the time they are asked.”
“I don’t get how he got locked away for so long. The standard for these cases always seemed to be charge and release on the same day, followed by a household search. Was she the daughter of some bigwig?”
“What kind of dictatorship do we live in?”
“Half a year of jail on no evidence, and he lost his job!? Hold this bitch to account!”
“It hardly matters that the court cleared him. Social punishments have already been exacted.”
“This poor guy had his whole life ruined because of this. His career will never recover and he has been branded a criminal… he should sue for tens of millions in damages and libel and feed his family with that for the rest of his unemployed life!”
“He’d never win. There was a similar case recently where a falsely accused innocent man sued the state for $130,000 and they threw it out by just saying that the police had no choice but to arrest based on the accusation.”
“Can he get his job back?”
“Losing your job at 40 is basically a death sentence here. He’ll never work again.”
“The problem is with these cops and prosecutors desperate to get a high ratio of convictions – if anyone maintains they are innocent after being arrested they start doing this kind of thing.”
“These false charges are bound to happen where you have a system where people are arrested automatically if accused of something by a woman. There needs to be some financial punishment for making such false charges or people will think nothing of making such accusations.”
“What are the police doing? Groping is utterly shameful, but the police do not even acknowledge the possibility women lie or are mistaken about these things.”
“Our police and prosecutors are as bad as the criminals…”
“Japanese police are just totally untrustworthy.”
“He would have gotten off more lightly by just beating her senseless.”
“You think false chikan accusations are bad! Think of what happens to the men subject to all those fake rape accusations!”
“As usual, women never lie and men have no rights.”
“How can you avoid stuff like this? Wear cameras all over your body?”
“You’d just be arrested for peeping…”