S Korean pastor gets 15 years in jail for raping his followers

Updated: Nov 23, 2018, 13:02 IST | Agencies | Seoul

Lee set up the Manmin Central Church in Guro, once a poor area of Seoul, with just 12 followers in 1982

Lee Jaerock. Pic/AFP
Lee Jaerock. Pic/AFP

A South Korean cult leader was convicted Thursday of the multiple rape of eight female followers - some of whom believed he was God - and jailed for 15 years. Pastor Lee Jaerock's victims were "unable to resist as they were subject to the accused's absolute religious authority", judge Chung Moon-sung told the Seoul Central District Court.

Lee set up the Manmin Central Church in Guro, once a poor area of Seoul, with just 12 followers in 1982. It has now grown to 1,30,000 members, with a spotlight-filled auditorium, sprawling headquarters, and a website replete with claims of miracle cures.

But three of Lee's followers went public earlier this year, as South Korea was swept with a wave of #MeToo accusations, saying he had summoned each of them to an apartment and forced them to have sex. Lee told a woman that she was now in Heaven, and to strip as Adam and Eve went naked in the Garden of Eden. Eight women laid criminal complaints, and the court found Lee raped and molested them over a long period.

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