Buddhist leader accused of coercing nuns into sex quits job

Nimrod Reitman in New York 24 July 2018

Nimrod Reitman in New York 24 July 2018

One of China's highest-ranking Buddhist monks quit as the head of the country's Buddhist association on Wednesday after facing a government investigation over accusations of sexual misconduct.

Fellow monks accused Xuecheng earlier this year of harassing and demanding sexual favors from nuns at his Beijing monastery as well as embezzling funds, allegations that Xuecheng denied on social media.

China's religious affairs administration launched an investigation following accusations leveled against the abbot in a 95-page document prepared by Xian Jia and Xian Qi, former supervisors at the Longquan Monastery.

The document was widely shared on WeChat and Weibo, a Twitter-like platform in China, but was quickly censored.

FILE PHOTO: A part of the Buddhist Longquan Temple is seen inside Fenghuangling Nature Park on the outskirts of Beijing, China August 3, 2018. It's not immediately clear if he will resign from the Longquan Monastery, where he's been serving as the abbot since 2005, or if he would lose his seat on China's top political advisory board.

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Xuecheng has not commented publicly on his resignation. As one of the most revered monks in China, Xuecheng has more than one million followers on Weibo.

Falun Gong is a meditation practice that was hugely popular in China in the 1990s, before Jiang ordered a nationwide persecution of its adherents in July 1999.

There is no legal definition of sexual harassment in China and no national regulations on how to handle sexual assault cases in schools and workplaces. In recent weeks, allegations against a number of prominent figures in other industries such as non-profit organizations and publishing have also come to light.

Social media posts on these allegations that generated heated online discussion were soon banned, but users have been able to relay information by using symbols and reposting articles as images.

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