Kompong Chhnang Provincial Court on Saturday charged the now-defrocked chief monk of a Rolea Ba’ier district pagoda with buying sex from a minor, police and court officials said yesterday.
Chan Thuon, 56, was arrested on Thursday evening at Ream Raingsei pagoda and defrocked on Friday after allegedly impregnating a 17-year-old girl, according to Prak Saony, chief of the provincial anti-human trafficking police.
“That monk used to have sex with the girl on numerous occasions since 2009,” said Ms Saony.
The chief monk allegedly initiated a sexual relationship with the victim last year after he provided spiritual healing to her sick younger brother. He gave the girl’s family money and gifts, and in January he paid around $225 for her to get an abortion at a local clinic, according to Ms Saony.
The affair came to light because Chan Thuon wrote a letter last week to local rights group Licadho, claiming that the girl had been raped and impregnated by her father. But when police summoned the victim and her father for questioning they, denied this story and the girl said she was actually impregnated by the monk, Ms Saony said.
“The monk confessed to having consensual sex with the victim and paying for the victim’s abortion,” said Penh Vibol, Kompong Chhnang provincial prosecutor, adding that the monk is currently being provisionally detained at the provincial prison.
The charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison.
Sao Phaerak, provincial monitor on children’s issues for Licadho, said that Chan Thuon brought him a letter last week asking for help “finding justice for a 17-year-old girl who was raped by her father.”
Non Nget, supreme patriarch of the Mohanikaya order, said that an individual monk’s wrongdoing does not tarnish the reputation of Buddhism as a whole.
“He has to be sentenced for the action he made, like the defrocked monk at Wat Sras Chak,” Non Nget added, referring to a recent scandal at a Phnom Penh pagoda where a defrocked monk videotaped over 100 naked women there.
Dork Narin, secretary of state at the Ministry of Cults and Religions, said that the ministry was now working to “effectively enrich and broaden regulations for monk to prevent the morality of Buddhism from falling down.” He declined to elaborate on what specific actions the ministry might take.