Several women in Taoyuan have accused a Cambodian Buddhist monk of sexual assault and using religious teachings for profit.
Instead of remaining celibate and leading an ascetic lifestyle, the monk is married, has two children and lives in a luxury condominium, the women said.
Local Chinese-language media have reported that the man came to Taiwan more than 10 years ago and took on a Chinese moniker as Buddhist master Shih Ching-liang (釋精良) after attending the Yuan Kuang Buddhist College in Taoyuan for three years, during which he learned Chinese.
The victims are all Cambodians married to Taiwanese men.
The Chinese-language Mirror Media magazine and other news outlets have reported that some of the victims knew each other and realized that Shih had taken advantage of their religious belief to pressure or persuade them into having sex with him.
Shih allegedly took advantage of his self-professed monk status and Taiwan’s large segment of Buddhist followers, and had been receiving regular donations.
Shih also conducted sutra chanting sessions at many temples, for which he received about NT$6,000 each, and received higher payments for conducting dharma assemblies.
One of the victims, known as Siao Yun (小雲), said that when she first came to Taiwan she was feeling homesick and was working hard to make a living.
“Then my friend introduced me to this monk from Cambodia and he became my spiritual guide. I made regular donations, which I did not tell my husband. We became closer and he lured me into having sex during a private session, and we had sex many times after that,” she said.
Another Cambodian woman, known only as “Nana,” who is also married, said that she sat down at the temple in devotion and offered donations, then Shih came over and started to grope her thighs.
“I told him to stop and stood up, but he went around me and tried to touch my body, so I pushed him away and ran out,” she said.
Nana said that Buddhist monks have a very high status in Cambodia, as people venerate and support them with donations of food or money.
“However, in Cambodia, the monks live and practice teachings in temples, and they live in celibacy and lead an ascetic lifestyle. They are not supposed to have a wife and kids or live in luxury like Shih,” she said.
“Shih has sexually assaulted many women and he is definitely a fake monk. He is desecrating the Buddhist teachings and exploiting the religion for sex and financial gains. So we as victims have come together to request an investigation into this case,” she said, adding that least 10 women have come forward so far.
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