A South Korean pastor has been jailed for 15 years for raping eight of his female members.
Judge Chung Moon-sung told Seoul Central District court that Pastor Lee Jaerock had absolute religious authority over his followers, who were unable to resist him.
The pastor’s conviction comes after three of his followers went public earlier this year and revealed that Lee had summoned each of them to an apartment before raping them in April, 2018.
The survivors revealed to the Korea Herald that he forced them to have sex several times, and claimed it was an order from God.
Lee was accused as South Korea was swept with a wave of Me Too allegations earlier this year.
Some of his victims talked about their traumatic experiences with the pastor.
One woman, who’d been a church member since childhood, said: “I was unable to turn him down. He was more than a king. He was God.”
Lee told another victim that she was now in Heaven and so she had to strip as Adam and Eve went naked in the Garden of Eden.
The woman told JTBC television: “I cried as I hated to do it.”
Eight women laid criminal complaints, and the court found Lee raped and molested them “tens of times” over a long period.
Lee showed no emotion and stood with his eyes closed as the judgement was read out against him.
The 75-year-old had denied the charges, his lawyers accusing the women of lying to seek vengeance after being excommunicated for breaching church rules.
Around 100 followers filled the courtroom to overflowing, some of them sighing quietly.
But former members of Lee’s church denounced the pastor outside of the court.
One of his member, Kim Yu-sun, who was a memeber for 20 years said:”The Manmin Central Church is all about worshipping the pastor Lee Jaerock
“Now that I go to a different church, I worship Jesus and pray to God. I’m happy and I like it.”
The pastor set up the Manmin Central Church in Guro in 1982 with just 12 followers in 1982. His followers has now grown to 130 ,000 until his recent downfall