China: Top-ranking monk at Beijing monastery accused of forcing nuns into sex

China Top-ranking monk at Beijing monastery accused of forcing nuns into sex

China Top-ranking monk at Beijing monastery accused of forcing nuns into sex

One of China's highest-ranking Buddhist monks faces a government investigation after he was accused of demanding sexual favours from nuns.

Xuecheng, abbot of Beijing-based Longquan temple, has denied allegations he sexually assaulted and harassed nuns by "controlling their minds" in the garb of religious teachings. He is a revered public guru for disseminating wisdom from Buddhist scriptures. "Xuecheng manipulated disciples to serve his "Buddhist Empire"...disciples under his control sacrificed their precious practices of Buddhist doctrines and violated these doctrines, even laws", the report submitted by the two monks alleged.

The allegations have surfaced...

Hundreds of monks stay and study at the monastery located on the outskirts of Beijing.

The temple said in a statement posted on Weibo (in Chinese) that it would call for an investigation team to be set up, but stressed Xuechang's denial of the charges.

China has seen an increasing number of sexual misconduct allegations as the #MeToo movement gains force there, prompting a cultural reckoning over a topic not normally publicly discussed and often not taken seriously by authorities.

'The falsified evidence is based on a deliberate attempt to frame Master Xuecheng, and can be considered a crime, ' the monastery said in the statement. The document also included financial statements suggesting he embezzled almost $1.5 million.

Monks Xianjia and Xianqi said the abbot at Longquan Temple targeted six nuns.

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The report has been circulating on Chinese social media platforms but appears to be being deleted and censored.

Xuecheng was taken in for questioning but has now been released, according to a source speaking to state media outlet the Global Times.

Xuecheng posted a statement on Wednesday under the monastery's name that decried the document as "forged materials, distorted facts and false accusations".

One of the monks, Xianqi, told BBC that he co-wrote the report but that he had "no idea" how it got leaked.

The #MeToo movement, which erupted in the United States previous year and led to dozens of high-profile figures being publicly shamed for sexual misconduct, has been slow to take off in China. Despite reported efforts by the government to censor some of the online discussions around the movement, including blocking the #MeToo hashtag, accusations of sexual misconduct have hit several prominent figures including activists, intellectuals, and others.

A volunteer who answered the phone at the monastery on Friday said it was unclear if Xuecheng was still serving as abbot.

Earlier in January this year, China had one of its first #MeToo moments after an academic accused her professor of sexual harassment.

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