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30-year jail term sought for JMS leader for multiple sexual crimes

Nov. 22, 2023 - 15:15 By Lee Jung-joo
A picture of Jeong Myeong-seok is shown in an advertisement for Netflix documentary series "In the Name of God: A Holy Betrayal" (Netflix)

Prosecutors at Daejeon District Court sought a 30-year prison sentence for the leader of the religious movement organization Jesus Morning Star, Jeong Myeong-seok, Tuesday.

Jeong is accused of raping and sexually assaulting three female followers from February 2018 to September 2021.

“The defendant, who is the leader of a religious organization, posed as the Messiah and used the JMS church to commit sexual crimes against female followers, which can be considered a grave crime,” said prosecutors. “Jeong brainwashed the victims and abused their trust to commit sexual crimes against them. The victims are pleading for harsh punishment for the extreme amount of pain he caused them.”

During the final hearing at Daejeon District Court, prosecutors also demanded that Jeong undergo a 500-hour sexual violence treatment program, to wear an ankle bracelet to monitor him for 20 years and to be prohibited from working in facilities with minors and people with disabilities for 10 years.

Jeong denied all the allegations, saying that he was not capable of brainwashing his followers to sexually assault them. He also stated that he had never said that he was the Messiah, but rather just an ordinary man.

Meanwhile, Jeong was released in 2018 after being imprisoned for 10 years for raping female followers and embezzling JMS’ funds. After his release, 23 sexual crime allegations were raised against Jeong -- including the ones depicted in Netflix documentary series “In the Name of God: A Holy Betrayal.”

Followers of the Jesus Morning Star religious movement organization stand outside Daejeon District Court to protest against the court trial of Jeong Myeong-seok, leader of JMS, Tuesday. (Yonhap)