A Buddhist monk accused of sexually abusing a teenage girl for three years and making videos of the acts has been released on bail.
As well, monastic authorities in Nakhon Si Thammarat have declined a police request to defrock Phra Kritsana Suwannarat, saying no decision should be made until the legal case against him is concluded.
Police, armed with a court warrant, apprehended Phra Kritsana, 44, at Ban Khuantom monastery in Chang Klang district of Nakhon Si Thammarat on Friday, Thai media reported on Saturday.
The monk was wanted on charges of sexually abusing a girl below the age of 15, depriving her of parental care, and colluding in the possession of firearms, said Pol Lt Col Athiwut Waiyakarn, head of the investigation team at the Phra Phom police station in the southern province.
The investigation began after a 16-year-old student sought help from Panthep Rasmano, a kamnan in Phra Phom. She told Mr Panthep that the monk had raped her and made videos of sex acts on numerous occasions since she was 14, with a promise to give her financial support to further her studies. He allegedly threatened to post the videos online if she told others.
The girl also said that the monk had physically assaulted her and that his 15-year-son had fired shots to threaten her.
Police found the allegations had grounds and arrested the monk's son on Thursday night before raiding the monastery on Friday.
Phra Kritsana denied the allegations. Police took him to Wat Phradu in Muang district to have a senior monk defrock him. But Phra Kritsana refused to leave the monkhood, insisting that he had been wrongly accused.
The provincial deputy chief monk said his inquiries indicated that there were no witnesses to the alleged crimes. He said the accused could stay in the monkhood pending the police investigation.
Several fellow monks and lay people followed Phra Kritsana to the police station to offer their moral support.
Pol Lt Col Athiwut said police had to take Phra Kritsana to the Nakhon Si Thammarat provincial court for detention while he was still wearing a saffron robe. Police also opposed bail.
Relatives of the monk placed a land title deed worth 600,000 baht as surety. The court approved bail on condition that the monk must not intimidate the victim and witnesses.
The court also asked the victim to immediately alert police if the monk intimidated her.