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Old 08-02-2011, 08:53 AM   #1
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First the Catholics, then the Buddhists, now the Jews - who next?

The Buddhists:

The meeting took place at Wat Dhammaram, a cavernous Theravada Buddhist temple on the southwest edge of Chicago. A tearful 12-year-old told three monks how another monk had turned off the lights during a tutoring session, lifted her shirt and kissed and fondled her breasts while pressing against her, according to a lawsuit.

Shortly after that meeting, one of the monks sent a letter to the girl’s family, saying the temple’s monastic community had resolved the matter, the lawsuit says.

The “wrong doer had accepted what he had done,” wrote P. Boonshoo Sriburin, and within days would “leave the temple permanently” by flying back to Thailand.

“We have done our best to restore the order,” the letter said.

But 11 years later, the monk, Camnong Boa-Ubol, serves at a temple in California, where he says he interacts with children even as he faces a second claim, supported by DNA, that he impregnated a girl in the Chicago area.

Sriburin acknowledges that restoring order did not involve stopping Boa-Ubol from making the move to California. And it did not involve issuing a warning to the temple there. Wat Dhammaram didn’t even tell its own board of directors what happened with the monk, he said.

“We have no authority to do anything. … He has his own choice to live anywhere,” Sriburin said.

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 are especially egregious because monks are supposed to live up to a higher spiritual calling. The monks take a vow of celibacy.

But he cautioned against any sweeping generalizations.

“I’m sure most of the monks are living up to their calling,” said Numrich, a professor at the Theological Consortium of Greater Columbus, Ohio.

‘A free land’

Theravada temples surfaced in the U.S. in the 1970s to serve immigrants from Southeast Asia. They have grown by the hundreds, serving as homes to religious, cultural and educational activities, such as Sunday school.

Theravada monks who come here from Thailand report only to their temple’s head monk and board of directors, said Phramaha Thanat Inthisan, secretary-general of the Council of Thai Bhikkhus in the U.S.

The council offers advice and other support to the Thai monks based in the U.S., he said, but doesn’t keep track of everyone’s name and has no authority over the monks. Neither do the religious leaders in Thailand.

Theravada monks who travel here from other countries, often on temporary religious visas, experience a similar lack of oversight, experts say.

“In America, it’s a free land,” said Bunsim Chuon, who assists the president of the Community of Khmer Buddhist Monks Center, a national association of Cambodian Theravada temples in the U.S.

Consider the case of Chaliaw Chetawan, who was convicted of battery after a 2010 attack at Wat Buddhadhamma, a temple outside west suburban Willowbrook.

A 30-year-old man told authorities that Chetawan, a Thai monk, held him against his will in the temple’s bathroom, groped him and tried to force inappropriate conduct.

“It was very forceful,” the man testified in court. “It was very humiliating.”

In a civil suit, the victim alleges that the temple ignored earlier instances of sexual misconduct. The claim is echoed by another man who alleges the temple’s leaders laughed when he reported being groped in 2009.

Chetawan is not here to face the lawsuit. In fact, it’s unclear where he is.

Just as Chetawan was to begin a year of probation, a DuPage County judge agreed to release him from his court-ordered supervision after his attorney said the monk would be sent back to Thailand and stripped of his title for breaking the vow of celibacy.

No responsibility

But when a Tribune reporter inquired, two monks at the suburban temple could not confirm Chetawan was in Thailand or deny rumors that he had remained in the U.S. The monks said he was no longer of concern to the temple.

“I don’t know where he is,” said Worasak Worathammo, a head monk.

He is not the only Theravada Buddhist monk whose whereabouts are unknown after getting in trouble with the law. A monk charged with sexual assault of a child in Harris County, Texas, also is missing.

The charges came in January after a 16-year-old girl confided in her high school counselor that the monk had been having sex with her for months, according to the complaint. Sgt. William Lilly, of the Harris County sheriff’s office, said he visited the temple in search of the monk after the teen’s outcry and “just got the sense they weren’t going to help.”

Days later, the monk’s attorney announced his client had fled and was believed to be in Cambodia.

Where is the monk now? The temple’s president could not say.

“That’s the thing with these Theravada Buddhist temples,” said Richard Flowers, an attorney who represented two sisters attacked by a monk in Pomona, Calif., in the 1990s. “No one claims responsibility. … Theoretically no one is in charge.”

The monk in California landed in prison after his convictions for sexual assault of the sisters and sexual assault of a child, court records show. The sisters also had success with a civil suit. It described the monk as “a serial rapist who seductively wrapped himself in the robes of religious office” and alleged that other temple officials played a “role in the cover-up and the attempted flight from justice.”

The court found multiple parties guilty of negligence, including the operator of a California temple where the assaults of the sisters took place, and a monk at another Theravada temple where the sisters were members.

But identifying higher-level targets was difficult, Flowers said.

“Our objective was to put liability on a responsible party,” he said. “I think they’ve figured out that under Western law they can be held liable and that they adhere to a code of silence. I don’t believe for a second that no one else is in charge.”

What’s apparent is those in charge don’t always agree on the definition of celibacy.

The temple outside Willowbrook said Chetawan would be stripped of his monk title for breaking the celibacy vow after he was convicted of battery.

But at Wat Dhammaram, the temple on the edge of Chicago, the monks did not see Boa-Ubol’s alleged abuse of the 12-year-old as cause to strip him of his title because there was no sexual intercourse, said Sriburin, the monk who penned the letter to the girl’s family.

“As long as we don’t know any sexual intercourse, we have no reason to charge anybody on that ground,” Sriburin said. “… We were informed that he just touched body.”

The temple took the less severe step of expelling Boa-Ubol from Wat Dhammaram and ordering him back to Thailand, Sriburin said. When Boa-Ubol returned to Wat Dhammaram months later to gather his belongings on his way to a temple in Long Beach, Calif., there was nothing the monks could do to stop him, Sriburin said.

Boa-Ubol, who has not been charged with a crime, told a Tribune reporter he secured the position at the Long Beach temple with the help of a friend who lives there.
Read the rest of the article here: Chicago Tribune

Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, and not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.
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Old 08-02-2011, 08:54 AM   #2
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The Jews:

ONE of the state’s most high profile Jewish leaders is fighting off calls for his resignation after he urged rabbis not to report allegations of child abuse to the police.

Rabbi Yosef Feldman, president of the Rabbinical Council of NSW and based at the Southern Sydney Synagogue, has sparked outrage in a series of emails to other rabbis when he said it should be up to them to determine whether a paedophile should be reported to authorities.

The rabbi also said that, where possible, allegations of abuse should be dealt with outside the Australian legal system.

Rabbis could instead “threaten” the child abuser with publicity of their crime as an alternative to reporting it.

“I really don’t understand why as soon as something of serious loshon horo (evil talk) is heard about someone of even child molestation should we immediately go to the secular authorities (sic),” Rabbi Feldman wrote. “One must go to a Rov (rabbi) who should firstly investigate the veracity of the complaint and if thought to be serious, warn the culprit etc. and act in a way that could scare him by threatening him with publicity by internet to the whole community.

“I personally feel that if we as a Jewish leadership can’t deal with this and other issues bifnim (internally) we are showing ourselves to be impotent.” He also argued anyone who reported a paedophile would be responsible if the paedophile was raped in prison. Rabbi Feldman’s comments are not the first time a religious leader has caused uproar over their stance on sexual assault.

In 2006 Sydney-based Sheik Taj Din al-Hilali likened women would dressed immodestly to “uncovered meat” and suggested it was their fault if a man assaulted them. The comments come as the Catholic Church in Australia resists calls for an end to the legal sanctity of confessional, which would require priests to report confessions of child abuse. But Rabbi Feldman did not shy away from the statements when contacted last week. Instead he insisted the issue was a “grey area” and that as well as the victim the rabbi had to be mindful of the welfare of the abuser.

“If there is a grey area then we have to look at the Jewish perspective and the human rights of the aggressor,” he told the Australian Jewish News. Rabbi Feldman was unable to comment yesterday because Saturday is the Jewish Sabbath, or day of rest, and he was not permitted to conduct business. The remarks have outraged in the Jewish community with others on the rabbinical council demanding he step down - calls which Rabbi Feldman has so far resisted.

The Organisation of Rabbis of Australasia have also slammed the comments as “abhorred” and have said a rabbi must “100 per cent” go immediately to authorities regarding matters of child abuse or molestation. The Rabbinical Council of NSW - which Rabbi Feldman is president of - have also rejected his view. Last week the council passed a motion condemning all forms of child abuse and affirming any prohibition of reporting crimes to police do not apply in cases of child abuse.
From The Telegraph

So. Next?

Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, and not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.
Charles Darwin.
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Old 08-02-2011, 09:31 AM   #3
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I speculate and ask a question. Do those who embrace religion, and overwhelmingly men are in power, self select themselves to be dangerous sexual predators? With brains twisted by religious dogma, the irrational forced on them as fact and led to believe that they have powers from some omnipotent being how can they know how to behave? Their sense of power is confirmed by followers who project on to them an entirely spurious sanctity. And as the sanctity is often allied to their personal sexual repression then that emotional drive will show itself.

The consequences are weird beliefs and weird behaviours. They savour something beyond the normal and feel they are beyond reach of normal sanctions. They embrace the secret, the hidden and the abnormal but what they really end up with is the perverted. I suspect there is a tsunami of sexual revelations from all religions just waiting to roll down amognst us. The Roman Catholics burst the wall that held those back. The rest may be about to follow.

Those who believe absurdities commit atrocities. I think Bertrand Russell said that and he spoke truly. The evidence is before us.
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Old 08-03-2011, 01:04 AM   #4
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I think Whisper's losing it.
Either that or there's three lots of Buddhist kiddie diddlers on the loose!

Stop the Holy See men!
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Old 09-02-2011, 03:18 AM   #5
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It's definately interesting to wonder about - whether the religions attract sexual predators, or if the power and the comfort of knowing there's only a small chance of being exposed and even less chance of punishment if you are brings out something darker and sinister in people who would otherwise be generally good people?

I think that if you accept the second premise then you have to accept the idea that there is the potential for dark and quite frankly disgusting acts in most (all) people, which runs completely against religion's arguments of morals coming from a higher authority and in the absence of belief in a higher authority, chaos and general "immoral" activities occur.

Of course, all this is moot as it is not a dichotomous solution, as it's more likely (in my oppinion) to be a mix of both, along with other factors (including the assumption that not all people are honest, some are more likely to be making false accusations for pure financial or other reasons), and that those that are genuinely guilty of the charges are more likely to have already been inclined to be sex predators and, having been lured by the promising nature of organised religion, been pushed over the edge.
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Old 09-02-2011, 09:34 AM   #6
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They attract sexual predators and give them a rationale for their predatory behaviour (my previous job for decades was assessing sex offenders and teaching police, probation and social services about the issue )

“'I am offended by that.' Well, so fucking what." Fry
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Old 09-02-2011, 09:36 AM   #7
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Just as the scouting service, youth services, teaching and other similar professions attract the predators- the difference is that these secular societies or whatever have mechanisms in place to counteract this attraction and also adhere (largely) to the laws regarding reporting etc etc

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