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OSAKA — The defense team for former Osaka Gov. “Knock” Yokoyama made a final appeal to the court Thursday for leniency over the molestation charge against him, saying their client has already been publicly disgraced.

In the final hearing before the Osaka District Court, Yokoyama apologized to the 22-year-old woman who accused him of molesting her in a van during his re-election campaign in April 1999.

The ruling will be handed down Aug. 10.

Although Yokoyama’s side has admitted he molested the woman, the lawyers repeatedly argued that his act was not premeditated and disputed the victim’s claim that he forcibly opened her legs with his left hand while groping her.

According to prosecutors, Yokoyama groped the campaign assistant over a 30-minute period in the back seat of a campaign van on the afternoon of April 8, 1999. They are demanding an 18-month prison sentence.

The defense team reiterated Thursday that Yokoyama should be given a suspended sentence because he has apologized before the court. They also cited the fact that Yokoyama has paid 11 million yen in damages to the woman, in line with an earlier court ruling in a civil suit over the case.

In asking for a lenient sentence, the defense said Yokoyama was punished and publicly humiliated when he resigned as governor.

However, lawyers for the woman said the court should take into consideration the very fact that Yokoyama was governor at the time, which they called the “essence of this crime.”

They also said that of the 11 million yen in damages he has paid, only 2 million yen was paid as compensation for the molestation. The remaining 9 million yen was paid to compensate the woman for damages caused by Yokoyama’s countercomplaint and his remarks that the woman was a “liar.”