Thursday, June 14, 2012

Monks walk away from sex-abuse cases

Text: Megan Twohey (Chicago Tribune, July 24, 2011); Wisdom Quarterly
Across the U.S., temples frustrate investigators by insisting they have no control over monks' actions or whereabouts. The scourge is not limited to Catholic priests and nuns.
The meeting took place at Wat Dhammaram, a cavernous [Thai] Theravada Buddhist temple on the southwest edge of Chicago.
A tearful 12-year-old told three monks how another monk had turned off the lights during a tutoring session, lifted her shirt and kissed and fondled her breasts while pressing against her, according to a lawsuit.
Editor: Prof. Cabezon, UCSB
Shortly after that meeting, one of the monks sent a letter to the girl's family, saying the temple's monastic community had resolved the matter, the lawsuit says.
The "wrong doer had accepted what he had done," wrote P. Boonshoo Sriburin, and within days would "leave the temple permanently" by flying back to Thailand. "We have done our best to restore the order," the letter said.
But 11 years later, the monk, Camnong Boa-Ubol, serves at a temple in California, where he says he interacts with children even as he faces a second claim, supported by DNA, that he impregnated a girl in the Chicago area.
Monastics are often beset by defilements.
Sriburin acknowledges that restoring order did not involve stopping Boa-Ubol from making the move to California. And it did not involve issuing a warning to the temple there. Wat Dhammaram didn't even tell its own board of directors what happened with the monk, he said.

"We have no authority to do anything. … He has his own choice to live anywhere," Sriburin said.
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. More

Documentary: A Thai Buddhist temple in Florida (Thomas Livezey)

No comments: