• Kyodo

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Tadashi Sakurai, the former mayor of Tomakomai, Hokkaido, was sentenced Tuesday to 18 months in prison, suspended for four years, for groping a woman at bar.

Sakurai, 52, who pleaded not guilty, will appeal the ruling by the Tomakomai branch of the Sapporo District Court, his lawyer said, adding the court was “totally wrong” in its handling of the facts of the case.

According to the ruling, Sakurai and a senior city official visited the bar run by the 45-year-old woman around 3 a.m. May 5.

After finding her asleep on a sofa, Sakurai put his hand into her underwear, the court said.

Sakurai told the court he touched the woman’s underwear but did not put his hand inside it.

He resigned May 31 after the allegations were made public and in November filed a complaint with prosecutors against the woman, saying she attempted to extort 5 million yen from him and told him she would go public with the groping allegations if he did not pay her.

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