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Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2005
Man denies confining, attacking four women
Prosecutors claim threats, physical abuse
By MASAMI ITO
A 25-year-old man denied Monday on the first day of his Tokyo District Court trial that he confined and assaulted four women on various occasions over a year's period from December 2003.
Yasuyoshi Ishijima, whose family name was Kobayashi at the time of his arrest in May, told the court that although he was with each of the women during the period, he did not confine or assault them.
"I deny that I confined the woman because she was free to leave at any time," Ishijima claimed. "She was not placed in a situation that made it impossible for her to leave."
Ishijima, dressed in white suit and sporting shoulder-length hair, read a written statement in which he denied the charges against him in detail.
"I did not threaten to kill her if she (tried to) escape," Ishijima said of one of his alleged victims, raising his voice. "I was with her, but I deny that I monitored her every movement."
Ishijima was arrested and charged with confining and assaulting the four women, one for up to four months, at various times between December 2003 and December 2004 in Tokyo and Aomori Prefecture.
Prosecutors alleged that through continuous verbal threats and physical violence, Ishijima caused the women so much fear they thought escape was impossible.
In their opening statement, prosecutors said Ishijima grabbed one of the women by the hair and dunked her head in a tub full of water. Another woman was locked outside on a balcony wearing very little or no clothing during the winter.
Prosecutors stated Ishijima worked out a plan to prevent his arrest for confining the women by giving the victims access to cell phones and e-mail.
They said in the case of one of the victims, whom he married, Ishijima made sure that she communicated with her family to make them believe she was with him by her own will, they said.
Ishijima repeatedly punched the women in the face and kicked them in the stomach, threatening them that their lives and those of their families were in his hands, the prosecutors said.
"I never punched or physically abused the woman," Ishijima said in a loud voice, referring to one of his alleged victims. "I did not at any point say that I would burn down her parents' house."
Prosecutors also alleged that Ishijima forced the women to call him "master" and sexually abused them. They said he verbally coerced one of his victims into slitting her wrists with a knife, and put a dog collar around the neck of another and chained her to a doorknob.
Three of the four women have been diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder.
Ishijima is said to have met two of the women through Internet chat sites and the other two at a costume party. Ishijima was once married to one of the women and has been married and divorced four times.
Ishijima was convicted of assaulting two women in 2001.
The Sapporo District Court handed down a suspended three-year prison term in that case in August 2003. He was on probation from a five-year suspension when the alleged confinements took place.