Pharyngula

It’s not just Catholics

Is this like some bizarre religion-wide side-effect or something? Because Catholicism and Buddhism seem like such wildly different faiths, but here we go again, chronic incidents of child rape by priests…Buddhist priests. And like the Catholic side of the story, they’ve got some of these priests dead to rights, with DNA/paternity tests and admissions and all kinds of testimony, and once again, it is the crime of the religious hierarchy to both enable it and hide the culprits from justice.

A Tribune review of sexual abuse cases involving several Theravada Buddhist temples found minimal accountability and lax oversight of monks accused of preying on vulnerable targets.

Because they answer to no outside ecclesiastical authority, the temples respond to allegations as they see fit. And because the monks are viewed as free agents, temples claim to have no way of controlling what they do next. Those found guilty of wrongdoing can pack a bag and move to another temple — much to the dismay of victims, law enforcement and other monks.

“You’d think they’d want to make sure these guys are not out there trying to get into other temples,” said Rishi Agrawal, the attorney for a victim of a west suburban monk convicted of battery for sexual contact last fall. “What is the institutional approach here? It seems to be ignorance and inaction.”

Paul Numrich, an expert on Theravada temples in the United States, said that like clergy abuse in other religious organizations, sex offenses are especially egregious because monks are supposed to live up to a higher spiritual calling. The monks take a vow of celibacy.

One serial offender, Boa-Ubol, has been definitively caught with a DNA test — he fathered a child on a 14-year-old girl. His temple chastised him, and claimed that he had left the US to go to Thailand. Where is he now? California. In a temple. Working with children. Reporters can call this rapist and pedophile up and have a conversation with him.

Speaking by phone from the California temple, he [Boa-Ubol ] responded to the allegations involving the 12-year-old and another woman who alleges Boa-Ubol sexually assaulted her at Wat Dhammaram in the late 1990s.

The woman is suing Boa-Ubol, Sriburin and the temple, alleging negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress and gender violence, and has included the alleged sex abuse of the other girl in her suit.

She alleges Boa-Ubol began assaulting her in the temple and a trailer behind it when she was 14 and continued to do so for nearly a year until she became pregnant.

The monk threatened to kill her father if she told anyone about the sex and provided her with money to keep quiet, according to the lawsuit. She alleged that other monks assaulted teenage girls and witnessed some of the attacks on her.

When she later told a woman at the temple that Boa-Ubol was the father of her daughter, the woman allegedly instructed her to relinquish the child to Wat Dhammaram — a response that caused her to flee the site, according to records.

Here’s another hint: don’t put clueless celibates in charge of judging sexual offenses.

But at Wat Dhammaram, the temple on the edge of Chicago, the monks did not see Boa-Ubol’s alleged abuse of the 12-year-old as cause to strip him of his title because there was no sexual intercourse, said Sriburin, the monk who penned the letter to the girl’s family.

“As long as we don’t know any sexual intercourse, we have no reason to charge anybody on that ground,” Sriburin said. “… We were informed that he just touched body.”

Jebus…I mean, Boo-duh. They really are all rotten through and through, aren’t they?