Police arrested a 22-year-old monk and another 22-year-old who had just left the monkhood for allegedly raping two girls aged 16 and 18 in a classroom in Kompong Speu province, police said Tuesday.
The rapes occurred Friday at the M’phaibuon Kanha secondary school in Por Angkrang commune’s Trapaing Prey village, Baset district police chief Em Saran said.
At the time of the crime, one of those arrested, Sin Phearom, was a monk in the Kraing Kangpisei pagoda, Em Saran said. The other, Phy Thy, had just left the monkhood two days earlier. Phy Thy was arrested Friday at the scene of the crime, while Sin Phearom was arrested Saturday morning because he was wearing his monk robes at the crime scene and police didn’t dare arrest him, Em Saran said.
“After the district religious [authorities] defrocked him the next morning, we arrested him immediately,” he said.
The two victims had been collecting tamarind fruit at the school, which is about 100 meters away from the pagoda, he added.
Nun Nget, supreme patriarch of the Mohanikaya Buddhist sect, said the incident was isolated.
“The recent arrest of a monk on rape charges is an individual issue because only a small number of monks have done wrong, while countless monks nationwide are good and respect religious rules and principles,” Nun Nget said by telephone Monday.
“Buddhism educates monks to have physical, verbal and mental purity,” Nun Nget added. “[Such a crime] heavily affects our religion, which is why it is necessary to defrock bad monks.”
Yi Thon, secretary-general of Inter-Religious Councils of Cambodia, said that a thorough investigation is necessary because some criminals wear monk robes while committing crimes to trick police and their victims.
“I think that this case is not a serious danger to the religion,” he added. “The serious danger would be if we allowed wrongdoers to continue in the monkhood and to wear monk robes.”
According to provincial deputy police chief Meach Samoeun, the two suspects will appear in Kompong Speu Provincial Court today.