Manhunt for monk accused of sexual abuse
Police are searching for the deputy abbot of a well-known temple in Nan province who allegedly sexually assaulted teenage novices for over two years.
The monk, who is believed to be on the run, also reportedly stole more than 1 million baht from the temple's bank account.
Pol Maj Gen Piyapan Pattarapongsin, commander of the Nan provincial police, said the provincial court has issued an arrest warrant for the missing monk -- identified as Thanet Thanamangkhalo -- and officers are trying to track him down.
The monk is being charged with sexually assaulting a person 15 years of age or younger who is not a spouse, either with or without their consent, and committing acts of sexual indecency against a person in that same age bracket, again with or without their consent.
The police raided the monk's living quarters where they found a handmade pipe for smoking marijuana and lubricant gel.
Pol Maj Gen Piyapan said the novice who exposed the monk claimed he had been sexually harassed by the man for two years. The deputy abbot constantly threatened him and the other novices, promising to strip them of their scholarships if they rejected his advances or attempted to expose him, the novice said.
The deputy abbot is also the head administrator of a dhamma school in the province that the novices attend.
The abused novice finally told his mother about the senior monk's sexual abuse and they decided to file a complaint with the police.
Pol Maj Gen Piyapan said the deputy abbot sometimes spent the night with the novices in his living quarters, where he kissed and groped them. He reportedly also drank and ate at night, which is against the Buddhist precepts governing monastic life. Nan police took the novice to a local hospital for a medical examination before sending him to the Nan Shelter for Children and Family for emotional counselling.