A South Korean religious sect leader has been sentenced to 23 years in prison over sex crimes


SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — A South Korean religious sect leader whose sex crimes were featured in the popular Netflix series “In the Name of God: A Holy Betrayal” earlier this year was sentenced to 23 years in prison on Friday, court officials said.

The Daejeon District Court in central South Korea said that it handed the prison term to Jeong Myeong-seok after convicting him of sexual violence against three of his female followers from 2018-2021.

Jeong, 78, is leader of the Christian Gospel Mission in South Korea, which is also known as Jesus Morning Star, or JMS.

A court statement said that Jeong’s convicted crimes include “quasi-rape” and “quasi-imitative rape,” which court officials said meant illicit sexual intercourse with a person who was unconscious or unable to resist.

The court refused to provide details of Jeong’s convicted sexual crimes.

Dozens of Jeong’s supporters gathered near the court, shouted slogans and raised placards that say Jeong isn’t guilty.

News reports said that Jeong called himself a reincarnated Jesus Christ, or Messiah. But Jeong and his defense lawyer denied that, according to the court statement.

Jeong committed the crimes after he was released earlier in 2018 after spending 10 years in prison over sexual violence against other female followers.

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