Defendant Insists on Flirting, Unfolds Selfish Argument in Assault Case Causing A 3-Year Prison Sentence | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Defendant Insists on Flirting, Unfolds Selfish Argument in Assault Case Causing A 3-Year Prison Sentence

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“Sentencing the defendant to three years in prison.”

On February 27th, in the courtroom of the Tokyo District Court, the presiding judge handed down a sentence of three years’ imprisonment. At times, the defendant, Atomu Kitabatake, nodded as the reasons for the sentence were explained.

Atomu Kitabatake (27), a former model charged with forcible indecent assault and other crimes for allegedly embracing a woman from behind and committing lewd acts on the streets of Setagaya Ward, had been undergoing a jury trial at the Tokyo District Court since February 19th.

Kitabatake at the time of his arrest

The defendant Kitabatake had been affiliated with a modeling agency and had appeared on television programs before his arrest. He had pursued a professional soccer career for 15 years and had reached a level where he received sports scholarships for both high school and university.

Appearing in court wearing a black suit and white shirt, Kitabatake looked slender with short hair and long legs, characteristic of his former modeling career. However, compared to footage before his arrest, he appeared to have lost weight during the trial.

Kitabatake is being charged with three incidents involving women in their 20s: attempted forcible indecent assault against victim A, and forcible indecent assault causing injury to victims B and C.

According to the prosecution’s opening statement,

On January 9th, 2023, at around 11 p.m., Kitabatake encountered victim A on the street and followed her for about 10 minutes. Suddenly, within the premises of a dark residential complex, he approached her from behind and covered her mouth with his hand. However, victim A screamed loudly, prompting him to flee the scene.


Approximately a month later, on February 4th of the same year, around 1:30 a.m., Kitabatake encountered victim B on the street. Having noticed that victim B had been shopping at a supermarket along the way, he followed her for about an hour. Then, on a deserted, dimly lit sidewalk, he suddenly approached her from behind and covered her mouth with his hand. Despite victim B’s attempts to scream and flee, Kitabatake pursued her, grabbed the hem of her coat, causing her to fall. As a result, victim B sustained injuries to her face, thighs, etc., requiring approximately 10 days of medical treatment. Kitabatake then fled the scene.

About a month later, on March 13th of the same year, around 12:30 a.m., Kitabatake followed victim C, who was walking alone. Suddenly, on a deserted, dimly lit sidewalk, he approached her from behind and inserted his hand into victim C’s skirt. As victim C tried to escape and lost her balance, Kitabatake touched her lower body over her clothing before fleeing the scene. Victim C sustained injuries such as scraping her right knee and splitting her nail when she lost her balance, requiring approximately one week of medical treatment.

Mr. C. has a history of playing soccer overseas (some images have been edited).

On the other hand, Kitabatake’s defense attorney argued in the opening statement that in all three incidents, Kitabatake approached the women from behind with the intention of “wanting to talk to them,” with the aim of flirting. He claimed that he approached them from behind, wrapped his arms around them as if giving them a back hug, and called out “Hey, miss.” However, upon the women screaming, he fled. While admitting to covering their mouths, he explained that it was not for lewd purposes but rather a spontaneous reaction to their screams.

During cross-examination, when questioned by his defense attorney about each incident, Kitabatake stated

“When I wrapped my arms around A from behind and called her miss, she screamed ‘Eek,’ so I panicked and tried to cover her mouth. When she freed her arms and shouted loudly, I ran away.

When I wrapped my arms around B from behind and called her miss, she screamed ‘Eek’ and tried to run forward, but she fell forward. When she almost fell, I instinctively grabbed the hem of her coat. I didn’t cover her mouth. Since B was shouting, I ran away.

When I wrapped my arms around C from behind and called her miss, she screamed ‘Eek’ and tried to run away. As she stumbled, I instinctively tried to support her with my hand and accidentally touched her lower body. I only touched her a little and didn’t put my hand inside her skirt. C fell to her knees and shouted ‘Police~,’ so I ran away.”

He stated, “I ran and left.


However, both Mr. B and Mr. C testified in court that Kitabatake was silent.

“After hearing footsteps from behind, I moved to the edge of the sidewalk, and suddenly my mouth was covered.” (From B)

“I heard footsteps approaching from behind, and suddenly a hand was inserted into my skirt.” (From C)

Also, in response to the defense attorney’s question “Why didn’t you speak up before going to a deserted place?” he answered, “I didn’t want to be seen by others because it would be embarrassing and awkward if I were rejected while flirting.”

The defendant, Kitabatake, continued to assert “It was flirting” in response to the prosecutor’s questions.

“I felt that some people might dislike it, but I didn’t consider the possibility of being reported as a suspicious person if it was just a hug,” he stated, responding to the prosecutor’s question, “Your argument is that you only hugged them, but have you ever felt that your sexual preferences or behaviors were a bit different from others, or that you were a bit off?” He firmly replied, “No.”

However, when another prosecutor asked, “You’re a model, right? You’re popular, right? Why didn’t you just approach them normally?” it became apparent that he had given completely different statements immediately after his arrest.

“Didn’t you state, ‘It’s pointless to approach and flirt on a night like this, so I thought if the girl didn’t totally reject me when I hugged her from behind, we could go somewhere’?” (Prosecutor)

 “I don’t remember.” (Kitabatake)

“Didn’t you explain, ‘I had a little to drink, and I started feeling a bit horny or in that kind of mood’?”(Prosecutor)

“I don’t remember.” (Kitabatake)

“Didn’t you state, ‘I couldn’t contain the sexual desire that had been building up inside me’?” (Prosecutor)

“I was pressured by the police and just said yes” (Kitabatake)

Furthermore, Kitabatake claimed, “I was shaken up right after the arrest, so I don’t remember what I said. Besides, I hadn’t been able to meet with my lawyer and didn’t receive any advice on how to handle the interrogation,” asserting that there were inaccuracies in the statement made immediately after the arrest.

On February 21st, the closing arguments and debates were held.

The prosecution stated that it is evident that the defendant engaged in the act with lewd intentions and that describing the act of suddenly attacking a young woman from behind in a deserted place late at night cannot be explained by terms such as flirting or hugging. They further argued that The motive was selfish, and there is a high likelihood of reoffending, and sought a sentence of five years imprisonment.

On the other hand, the defense argued that the defendant’s actions were not driven by lewd intentions, but by a desire to flirt, and that he did not approach the victims with the intention of committing a lewd act. If anything, he could be charged with assault or injury offenses, and a sentence with probation would be appropriate, they stated.

In his final statement, the defendant Kitabatake bowed deeply with tears in his eyes, saying, “I pray that my apologies will somehow reach the victims. I deeply apologize for what happened. I am truly sorry.” He then bowed his head deeply towards the gallery in the courtroom.

And on February 27th, a three-year prison sentence was handed down. Perhaps due to the repeated coverage, many young people had gathered in the courtroom. As mentioned earlier, Kitabatake listened to the words of the presiding judge while nodding. Did he truly understand how much he had hurt women with his actions?

  • Interview and text by Nakahira Ryo Photo Shinji Hasuo

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