The Tokyo High Court on Wednesday upheld a lower court order that the former president of a cardboard manufacturer in Mito, Ibaraki Prefecture, pay 15 million yen in damages for abusing three mentally disabled women in his employ.

The high court dismissed an appeal filed by the former boss, Masao Akasu, 57, and said the testimony of the plaintiffs, who sought a combined 30 million yen in compensation, was reliable.

The court also recognized that the plaintiffs had been sexually abused. In his criminal trial, Akasu did not face charges of sexual abuse, only physical abuse and fraud.

The three women began working at the firm between 1990 and 1993. Until they left in February 1996, they were abused on an almost daily basis at the plant and in their dormitory, including being beaten and not receiving food.

One of the plaintiffs, 39, said of their appellate trial win: “It was a long road getting here, but we were able to hold on thanks to the encouragement of our supporters and lawyers,” she said.

In March, the Mito District Court ordered Akasu to pay 15 million yen in damages, prompting him to appeal.

In his criminal trial, Akasu was convicted in March 1997 of physical abuse and defrauding the state out of subsidies given to firms that employ disabled people. He was sentenced to a suspended three-year prison term.

The case became well known when it was presented in a TV drama and when the victims and their supporters rallied outside the district court when Akasu was sentenced.

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