Revered Beijing temple’s abbot accused of sexual harassment
Two disciples who graduated from Tsinghua claim to have evidence that their mentor has not led a celibate life
The abbot of a prominent Buddhist temple in Beijing, the 1,000-year-old Longquan Monastery, faces accusations from two former disciples that he sexually harassed nuns and “controlled their minds” to force them into sexual obedience.
Master Shi Xuecheng is also the president of the semi-official Buddhist Association of China and a standing member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, the nation’s top political advisory body.
His accusers allege that he sent illicit messages to a number of nuns at the monastery and coerced them into having sex with him. The accusations were in a revealing report initially filed to the local police earlier this week, and which has since found its way onto the nation’s social media platforms.
The 95-page document, compiled by two Tsinghua University doctorate graduates who were ordained at the temple, contains screenshots of erotic messages that Shi allegedly sent to nuns via WeChat.
Shi and the temple, cloistered in a picturesque tourist resort in a western suburb of the Chinese capital, have been quick to fight back. They issued a statement saying that the two whistle-blowers had “forged and distorted facts” to frame their mentor and dug dirt on the temple. It went on to claim that their actions were a disgrace to the Buddhist doctrine.
Shi, 52, was summoned to a local police station for questioning shortly after the report was filed, but later released, according to Chinese papers.
On Wednesday, Shi posted pictures to his Weibo account of a national flag-raising ceremony held at the temple, only one day after the accusation and police questioning caused a media commotion. This comes at a time when the #MeToo hashtag is spreading quickly across a nation where victims of sexual crimes are often intimidated to stay silent.
The two accusers said they started investigating Shi after a nun, who stayed at the temple last year, turned to them for help as she said Shi texted her obscene messages and tried to make sexual advances.
The pair insisted that they had consulted experts from the Ministry of Public Security to make sure that the text messages were indeed sent by Shi.
Their evidence was that Shi compelled at least six nuns to have sex with him, and that four of them agreed to his requests. One of them reportedly also filed a report to the police in June.
If confirmed by the police, the incident will be the latest embarrassing addition to a series of sexual harassment exposés involving prominent Chinese intellectuals and activists.