BEIJING: The former head of China’s government-run Buddhist association is under investigation for alleged sexual assault, the country’s top religious authority said.
Xuecheng, a Communist Party member and abbot of Beijing’s Longquan Monastery, is one of the most prominent figures to face accusations in China’s growing #MeToo movement.
He stepped down earlier this month after a report by fellow monks accused him of sexual and financial improprieties.
In a 95-page report circulated online last month, two monks said Xuecheng sent explicit text messages to at least six women, threatening or cajoling them to have sex with him, claiming it was a part of their Buddhist studies.
The National Religious Affairs Authority said it had confirmed Xuecheng sent “harassing messages”, adding that authorities had begun an investigation into the report’s charges of sexual assault.
Investigators also uncovered evidence that the Longquan Monastery violated national financial regulations, it said in a statement.
Xuecheng, 51, stepped down at a meeting of the Buddhist Association of China earlier this month following the allegations.
The abbot is also a member of the People’s Political Consultative Conference, a top advisory board.
A prominent personality in Buddhist life with a social media following of millions, Xuecheng’s Weibo account has been silent since Aug 1 when he posted a statement rejecting allegations of sexual misconduct.
In their report, the two monks, who are no longer members of the monastery, said four women gave in to Xuecheng’s demands.
One of the authors said on social media that he was compelled to speak out after the victims were ignored by authorities who said they could not investigate the matter. — AFP
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