A 22-year-old monk claimed to have been the unhappy victim of mistaken identity on Thursday, a day after he was hauled in for questioning after a 14-year-old girl alleged that a monk tried to rape her in Tuol Kok district.
Monk Chuong Chamnan said police brought him to the Ministry of Cult and Religions to answer for the girl’s allegations. Despite his strenuously proclaimed innocence, he said he was forced to pay the girl’s family $125 to save himself from being defrocked. He was later allowed to return to his Stung Meanchey district pagoda.
“It is a complex and serious matter that a monk was accused of rape, because it affects not only my honor, but it also affects other good monks and the Buddhist religion,” he said Thursday.
The girl told police that a monk visited her house in Toek Laak III commune seeking food around noon Wednesday, Deputy Commune Police Chief Ton Sareth said. She said the monk then grabbed her, took off his underwear and tried to rape her, but fled when she shouted for help, the deputy chief said.
Chuong Chamnan said he was standing on a street corner when a mob of villagers seized him. Women slapped his face and hurled insults, he said.
He said he saw another monk speeding away on the back of a motorbike moments before. He added: “I never knew that girl.”
Deputy Police Chief Ton Sareth said Thursday that the girl’s story was suspect “because there were crowds of people living in other houses at that time.”
Chuong Chamnan said the reported presence of the offending monk’s underwear during the alleged attack should have served to clear his name. “Commune police checked me to find underwear but they found nothing, because I never wear any,” he said.