National / Crime & Legal

21-year prison term upheld for ex-NHK reporter found guilty of raping three women

Kyodo

A high court on Thursday upheld a lower court ruling that sentenced a former reporter for public broadcaster NHK to 21 years in prison for raping three women.

The defense for Yasutaka Tsurumoto, 30, claimed someone with a grudge against the former journalist may have left materials carrying his DNA at the crime scenes, but the Sendai High Court rejected his appeal.

“No involvement of a third party was possible as materials derived only from the defendant were detected,” Judge Fumio Shimahara said in handing down the ruling.

Tsurumoto’s defense team said they will discuss it over with the defendant and decide whether to appeal.

According to the rulings, Tsurumoto broke into the residences of the women, each in their 20s, and sexually assaulted them in three separate incidents — in Yamanashi Prefecture in December 2013 and October 2014 and in Yamagata Prefecture in February 2016. Two of the victims sustained injuries.

Tsurumoto worked at the broadcaster’s Kofu and Yamagata bureaus after he was hired by NHK in 2011. He was dismissed in February 2017.

The defense denied the rape charges at the Yamagata District Court and the high court.