A high-profile Buddhist monk in China is being accused of sexually harassing nuns and coercing them into sex. The allegations against Shi Xuecheng have initiated a government investigation.
The 51-year-old Buddhist monk is the abbot of Longquan Temple. He is a member of the Communist Party’s top political advisory body and also heads the Buddhist Association of China.
In June, one of the alleged victims came forward and reported the alleged sexual assault. Later, two monks, Shi Xianqi and Shi Xianjia, at the temple wrote a 95-page statement that said Xuecheng not only sexually harassed nuns but also demanded sexual favors from them.
The statement also included the alleged victims’ testimony.
The dossier was leaked on social media and created a furor online but it was later censored. The statement reportedly said Xuecheng sent explicit messages to at least six nuns. The nuns said the incidents damaged their mental state to a point they thought of committing suicide.
“We have submitted more evidence. We will now wait for the result of the government probe. So many faithful Buddhist women wanted to join the temple and I always voted yes. Little did I know I was sending them to the tiger's mouth,” said Xianqi.
He added he began preparing the dossier earlier this year when a fearful nun came to him and told him about the sexual abuse.
However, the abbot has denied the allegations and said it was an attempt to mislead the public.
He posted a statement on Chinese social media website Weibo that said, “[the accusers] had forged materials, distorted facts and spread false accusations” and that the statement from “fabricated material” and “distorted facts.”
The State Administration for Religious Affairs also released a statement and said they “attach high importance” to the claims against the abbot and "has started investigation and verification work.”
This is not the first time a Buddhist monk has been accused of harassing nuns.
In 2015, scandalous accusations against Abbot Shi Yongxin of Shaolin Temple emerged which labeled him as a womanizer with illegitimate children.
Banner / Thumbnail : Reuters, Jason Lee