Students held in gang rape

Six athletes at Kyoto University of Education accused; one confesses

KYOTO (Kyodo) Police said Monday they have arrested six male students of the Kyoto University of Education on suspicion of gang-raping a 19-year-old woman at a Kyoto pub.

According to the prefectural police, Shota Isotani, 22, Satoshi Takeda, 25, and four other students raped the university student, who was drunk at the time, on the evening of Feb. 25 in a vacant room in the pub.

Takeda has admitted to the allegations but the other five claim the woman was not drunk and the sex was consensual, the police said.

University officials said the six were all members of sports teams at the school, including the American football team.

The suspects and the victim were in the pub for a party attended by some 95 people, around a third of them women, according to the police.

The university suspended the six students indefinitely at the end of March over the case.

The female student took the case to the police April 4, when the incident was part of the campus rumor mill.

The incident follows similar alleged gang rapes involving members of sports teams and social clubs at universities and the use of alcohol.

In 2003, male members of the Super Free event-planning club at Waseda University in Tokyo were charged with gang rape, prompting legislators to toughen the penalty for sex crimes.

But gang rapes continued. Members of the Kyoto University football team were arrested in 2006 for forcing a female university student to drink liquor to the point of unconsciousness, after which they raped her. They were all convicted.

Sex victim privacy

Kyodo News

Courts are expected to withhold the names of sex crime victims when they screen lay judge candidates because of the possibility the potential jurors could know the victim, the Supreme Court said.

It will be an exception to the normal process.

The idea of using initials or just the approximate age to identify such victims came amid arguments from women’s support groups that the victims’ privacy may be compromised because lay judge candidates do not have confidentiality obligations on information they learn about the cases they are called in for.

Under the system that started May 21, six ordinary people will sit with three professional judges to try serious criminal cases, including murder and rape. Courts are expected to call in about 50 to 100 candidates for each case.

Relatives or housemates of a defendant or victim cannot become lay judges, and the court also must exclude candidates who may be incapable of making a fair judgment for such reasons as having close ties to either party.

In the usual selection process, the district court will give candidates an overview of the case to be tried, including naming the defendants and victims, and will try to determine if there are any conflicts of interest.

But for sex crimes, the court may, for example, only describe the alleged victim as “Ms. S in her 30s” and give a rough location of where the person lives, depending on the size of the municipality.