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S. Korean sect leader facing rape charges

SEOUL, Feb. 23 (UPI) -- The spiritual leader of a South Korean religious sect is facing charges for allegedly raping several followers, prosecutors said Saturday.

Prosecutors said Jeong Myeong-seok, the 62-year-old leader of the Jesus Morning Star cult, allegedly forced several female followers to have sex with him, telling the women it would save their souls, the Yonhap news agency reported.

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The cult leader was extradited to South Korea from China last week after being arrested in May 2007 at the South Korean government's request.

The rape allegations first came to light in 1999 when a TV program detailed Jeong's alleged actions. Following that broadcast, Jeong fled the country and reportedly remained on the run until his arrest.

A South Korean woman and a Japanese woman filed a criminal suit in 2003 against Jeong for allegedly raping them and the pair has since been awarded financial compensation by the South Korean Supreme Court.

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