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Monday November 29, 2021

Chinese temple denies head abbot sexually harassed nuns

By AFP
August 03, 2018

BEIJING: A prominent Beijing temple has denied allegations that its celebrity head abbot, a member of the Communist Party, coerced several nuns into having sex with him, one of China’s most high-profile #MeToo cases.

The allegations against Master Xuecheng and the Beijing Longquan Monastery burst into the public eye when a 95-page document written by two former monks, who also claimed that the temple is in financial trouble, emerged online earlier this week.

He is accused of sending illicit text messages to at least six women, tempting or threatening them to have sex with him. Four gave in to Xuecheng’s demands, the report said, adding that he tried to assert "mind control" by claiming the sex was a part of their Buddhist studies.

"Xuecheng manipulated disciples to serve his ‘Buddhist Empire’... disciples under his control sacrificed their precious practices of Buddhist doctrines," the document said. But the monastery late on Wednesday denounced the dossier, which it says falsified evidence, calling it an attempt to tarnish Xuecheng and the monastery’s reputation.

"The falsified evidence is based on a deliberate attempt to frame Master Xuecheng, and can be considered a crime," the temple said in a statement posted on the Twitter-like Weibo platform. "This incident has its roots in revenge, an operation motivated by malice. Beijing Longquan Monastery calls on the government and religious affairs authorities to form an investigative team to look into the matter."

Beijing police and the religious affairs authorities could not be immediately reached for comment. The report and posts about it have been taken down or censored on social media. According to the state-run Global Times, Xuecheng had been brought in for questioning by authorities but later released.

In a separate social media posting, one of the report’s authors said he was forced to go public after the victims were ignored by authorities who said they could not investigate the matter. 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.

Abbot Xuecheng is a prominent personality in Chinese Buddhist life with a social media following of millions. He heads the Buddhist Association of China and is also a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, a top advisory board.