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HOME  > Past issues  > 2014 July 30 - August 12  > School teacher falsely accused of groping clears his name
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2014 July 30 - August 12 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

School teacher falsely accused of groping clears his name

August 10, 2014
Akahata Sunday edition

After two and a half years of court struggles, a 30-year-old male teacher at a public junior high school in Tokyo’s Mitaka City at the end of July cleared his name over a false accusation of groping on a bus.

The teacher, Tsuyama Masayoshi, on the night of December 22, 2011, was arrested for allegedly touching a high school girl on her hip on a crowded bus.

Although Tsuyama kept denying the allegation, a public prosecutor forced him to confess and indicted him after keeping him in detention for 28 days.

In Japan, 99.9% of those who are charged with a criminal offense receive a guilty verdict. However, Tsuyama was determined to prove his innocence in court. “I refused to admit to the charge because I did not commit any offense. I thought if I gave in, it would mean that my students would be labeled as students of a sex offender. I could not tolerate that,” he recalled.

In the court battle, Tsuyama and his lawyers submitted an analyzed report of footage of a monitoring camera on the bus. Based on the report, they claimed that it was impossible for Tsuyama to have sexually assaulted the school girl because he was holding a strap with his left hand and texting on his mobile phone with his right hand.

The Tokyo District Court Tachikawa Branch, however, in May last year ruled that Tsuyama could have touched the girl with his left hand during a short period when the camera lost sight of the strap he was holding due to a jolt, and imposed a 400,000 yen fine on him.

Tsuyama and his lawyers appealed to the Tokyo High Court. After conducting a much more detailed analysis of the footage, they proved to the court that Tsuyama’s left hand was holding the strap at all times. Taking this into account, the high court in July overturned the lower court ruling and declared him not guilty. The high court ruling was finalized after the prosecutor decided not to appeal.

Tsuyama said, “I can go back to my school. I want to resume my career as a teacher as soon as possible.”

One of Tsuyama’s lawyers, Imamura Kaku, commented that in order to make the judicial system fairer, it is essential to reform the current system through full disclosure of evidence and videotaping of the police interrogation process.

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