A man accused of groping a schoolgirl on a train was exonerated in court by forensic tests of the alleged victim’s pantsu which could find no trace of his DNA, but in spite of a not guilty verdict police still refuse to acknowledge this “unexpected” outcome, and are considering an appeal.
The 35-year-old Saitama prefecture man found himself accused of groping a schoolgirl on a packed rush hour train, and police rapidly charged him.
Unlike untold numbers of other falsely accused men, rather than accept the charges and plead guilty, he resolved to fight the charges, but he soon found that, unlike in normal criminal trials where defendants are innocent until proven guilty, when accusations of sexual assault are levelled against a man he is expected to prove his innocence to courts.
His alleged victim claimed he had put his hand up a skirt and copped a feel, causing him to be arrested on the spot. Strenuously denying the charges from the outset, police still prosecuted on the girl’s word, with prosecutors saying “We can trust the word of his victim when she says ‘I caught the hand of the person who groped me'”, and seeking a ¥400,000 fine.
Such a case would normally result in a conviction, but astonishingly the accused was able to prove his innocence – DNA testing of the alleged victim’s pantsu failed to demonstrate any match between material found and samples taken from his hand, and forensic tests of fabric residue were unable to find any trace of his garments on her clothing.
Under just what circumstances the girl’s pantsu and uniform were taken by police is not described.
The court found him innocent – he reportedly wept for joy at hearing the verdict.
However, police are still considering appealing the verdict, on grounds which can only be guessed at.
A lawyer involved in one of the rare cases of successful defence against chikan charges relates the prevailing police attitude:
“Police will proceed with a prosecution even if they don’t have sufficient evidence.
Despite all the attention false charges of groping are attracting, police and prosecutors just don’t care. Even in this case, although the objective evidence was enough to demonstrate his innocence, the prosecutor still said it was an ‘unexpected verdict.'”
With some men driven to suicide by brutal police handling of such cases, pressure is most certainly mounting.
A support group for victims of false accusations is even more scathing:
“The police should know the results of their tests on the fabric and DNA. But in spite of this they are still considering launching an appeal against the innocent verdict!
They’re actually denying the results of their own forensic testing, which they claim to have absolute confidence in!”
A candid police source reveals their thinking about the issue:
“The base criminals responsible for these attacks are nothing but lies and excuses from start to finish, it’s a real shame their victims are put through this. If there’s nothing at stake for either party, our assumption must be that ‘the chances of him being the perpetrator are extremely high.’
We don’t just blindly accept the woman’s testimony, but with our hatred of this despicable crime, in the end I suppose it comes down to ‘contempt for men.'”
Recent years have seen courts become increasingly concerned about seeing actual evidence of such crimes provided, but in the end it remains impossible for male commuters riding Japan’s overcrowded trains to avoid contact with female passengers, and when accidental contact does occur proving it was not intentional is a virtual impossibility.
It would appear that travellers on Japan’s rail network unfortunate enough to be male must still prepare for the worst in the event of being convicted on the basis of the infallible testimony of a woman in a packed train.