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Standup comic turned governor makes a comic of himself in sex scandal 

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June 21, 2000   

TOKYO (AP) - Prosecutors on Tuesday demanded 18 months in prison for a former governor of Osaka who was driven from office by allegations that he fondled a female college student in the back of a campaign van.

Knock Yokoyama, 68, pleaded guilty in March to charges of indecent assault. The former standup comic resigned as governor in December.    

Hidetoshi Murakami, an official at Osaka district court, said prosecutors demanded 18 months in prison for Yokoyama, but declined to discuss details. The next court session will be held on June 29,he said.

Court sessions are held to determine sentencing in Japan for defendants who plead guilty. The maximum penalty for indecent assault is seven years in prison.    

Yokoyama was accused of groping a part-time campaign worker last year. A civil court has ordered him to pay 11 million yen (dlrs 104,760) in damages, the largest award in a sexual harassment case in Japan.    

The case has drawn intense attention in Japan, where sexual harassment had not been taken seriously as an offense until recently.   

Yokoyama, who is married, had repeatedly denied any wrongdoing last year before pleading guilty.

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