Masturbating Monk Throws in the Towel

The hunt for a young monk who found fleeting fame by posting sexually explicit content to his Facebook page ended on Monday when he surrendered to top monastic officials in Phnom Penh.

“He turned himself in to senior monks, then he was defrocked,” said Seng Somony, a spokesman for the Ministry of Cults and Religion.

The ministry ordered a search for Va Sinan last week after he shared videos and photographs on his Facebook page that show him waving handfuls of cash and masturbating in his orange robes.

On Thursday, Mr. Sinan—who appears to be in his 20s—posted a video to his page claiming that he was in Thailand and that his smartphone had been hacked, but did not deny that the clips and images were of him.

According to Mr. Somony, his defrocking on Tuesday was necessary to “maintain the value of Buddhism and stop the confusion among the people.”

Footage of a confession made by Mr. Sinan during his defrocking was posted to the Facebook page of the Phnom Penh Municipal Buddhist Monks Office on Monday night.

In the video, Mr. Sinan apologizes for the “incredible scandal” his actions caused.

“I will take responsibility and accept Buddhist discipline: to be released from the monk­hood,” he says.

A statement accompanying the video urged the public to stop discussing Mr. Sinan’s impropriety and avoid making generalizations about monks.

“Please don’t take these photos and make them the subject of discussion,” it said. “This case was only an individual matter.”

Mr. Sinan’s offenses pale in comparison to those committed with increasing frequency by monks across the country in recent years, including murder, rape and child rape.

Critics have said Cambodia’s pa­go­das are being used as a dumping ground for boys whose parents are unable or unwilling to rear them properly. The country’s senior-most monks have refused to acknowledge systemic problems, dismissing the wave of violent crime as a series of isolated incidents.

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Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Va Sinan was defrocked on Monday.  

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