A Tribune review of sexual abuse cases involving several Theravada Buddhist temples found minimal accountability and lax oversight of monks accused of preying on vulnerable targets.
Because they answer to no outside ecclesiastical authority, the temples respond to allegations as they see fit. And because the monks are viewed as free agents, temples claim to have no way of controlling what they do next. Those found guilty of wrongdoing can pack a bag and move to another temple -- much to the dismay of victims, law enforcement and other monks.
"You'd think they'd want to make sure these guys are not out there trying to get into other temples," said Rishi Agrawal, the attorney for a victim of a west suburban monk convicted of battery for sexual contact last fall. "What is the institutional approach here? It seems to be ignorance and inaction."
Paul Numrich, an expert on Theravada temples in the United States, said that like clergy abuse in other religious organizations, sex offenses areespecially egregious because monks are supposed to live up to a higher spiritual calling. The monks take a vow of celibacy."
One serial offender, Boa-Ubol, has been definitively caught with a DNA test — he fathered a child on a 14-year-old girl. His temple chastised him, and claimed that he had left the US to go to Thailand. Where is he now? California. In a temple. Working with children.