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Teacher accused of filming child pornography asked boys out for 'steaks'

YOKOHAMA -- One of six members of pedophile groups arrested on suspicion of molestation and other charges allegedly asked boy victims out by telling them, "Let's eat a steak together," before taking them to a condominium for obscene acts, it has been learned.

Akira Hashimoto, 45, a part-time elementary school teacher who was indicted for indecent assault and on other charges, is suspected to have asked boys to share meals and urged them to take a bath and perform other actions to secretly film them, according to prosecutors' testimony provided during a hearing of his trial at the Yokohama District Court on Feb. 10.

According to Kanagawa Prefectural Police, Hashimoto repeatedly committed indecent acts at a resort condominium in Atami, Shizuoka Prefecture, owned by fellow pedophile Koichiro Tanaka, 66. Hashimoto was quoted as telling investigators, "I was interested in young boys." Tanaka, who is unemployed, was also arrested and indicted over the case.

During the Feb. 10 hearing, prosecutors revealed Hashimoto's tactics, in which he approached elementary school boys to get acquainted with them, asked them out for a steak when they met again at a later date, and took them to the resort condominium. While the boys were receiving massages and taking a bath, Hashimoto shot their images with his wristwatch digital camera.

Hashimoto had been working at an elementary school in Tokyo until he was arrested in October last year. The principal of the school commented, "There were no problems with his work attitude. I'm astounded. I'm sorry for our students and their parents and guardians." The principal continued, "I'm worried about our students over possible psychological shocks from the incident. We will provide sufficient care to them."

The Tokyo Metropolitan Board of Education is set to punish Hashimoto.

The six men are specifically accused of violating the Act on Punishment of Activities Relating to Child Prostitution and Child Pornography, and the Protection of Children for allegedly creating and sharing videos of 21 boys aged from 4 through 13. Police revealed that investigators had confiscated more than 100,000 items of child pornography, and that there were likely 168 or more victims.

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