The Tokyo District Court on Oct. 24 ordered the Unification Church to pay 25 million yen in damages to a former follower who claimed the religious group cheated her out of property by forcing her to make donations.Presiding Judge Hiromu Emi told the day’s session, “It is socially unacceptable (for the Unification Church) to gain a huge amount of money by warning (the follower) that serious damage will be inflicted on her relatives unless she makes donations.”The judge ordered the sect to pay back all of the donations made by the plaintiff — a 38-year-old housewife — plus the legal cost for the lawsuit. The woman, who was not named, was introduced to a “self-enlightenment center” in Yokohama by a friend without knowing it was in fact a branch of the Unification Church, according to the court.The sect’s followers then persuaded her to join the group, saying that her son would become unhappy because of a curse from her deceased parents if she refused to, the judge said. The followers then urged the plaintiff to make donations “to purify her property,” and she eventually gave in to their demands, the court said.
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