Buddhist monks leave the main building of Wat Phra Singh temple after prayer in Chiang Mai, Thailand, on Oct. 31. (Photo: Mladen Antonov/AFP)
A Buddhist monk in Thailand has been arrested by police after he allegedly sent a sexually explicit video of himself to numerous young girls and boys.
Pramuk Jaroensuk, 49, the abbot of a monastery, is alleged to have been soliciting sexual favors from the children in exchange for money in the northeastern province of Udon Thani.
A woman in a village alerted police after the monk had asked her 12-year-old daughter to have sex with him while sending the girl a video clip that showed him pleasuring himself.
During a search of the monk’s residence, police officers discovered the video clip on two of his mobile phones and a tablet.
According to the woman, the Buddhist clergyman had sent her daughter the clip with a text message that said: “Tell me if you want easy money.”
After discovering the clip on her daughter’s phone, the woman responded to the message, asking the sender what he wanted.
“The sender said he would offer 2,000 baht in exchange for having sex with him,” the mother was reported as saying.
“I searched his name and found that he was the abbot at a temple, so I notified the police,” she said. “My daughter said her friends who are in Prathom 6 (grade 6) also received similar invitations.”
After his arrest the abbot, who had been a monk for 23 years, was defrocked for engaging in conduct unbecoming of a Buddhist clergyman.
Pramuk reportedly told police he had tried to solicit sexual favors from more than 20 children, both boys and girls, between the ages of 11 and 13. He said he had befriended the youngsters on Facebook.
The man has been charged with distributing pornographic material and attempting to engage in sexual intercourse with underage people. If convicted, he could face years in prison.
This case is merely the latest in a long series of scandals involving Buddhist monks in Thailand.
In June, the 59-year-old abbot of a monastery in Buriram province in the rural northeast was arrested and defrocked after he had driven his minivan head-on into a pickup truck traveling from the opposite direction down a country road.
The pickup was driven by a municipal official and his 36-year-old wife, Lampai, who was eight months pregnant. After the collision, the monk got out and murdered the heavily pregnant woman with a machete, causing her unborn child to die as well, according to police.
The monk confessed to killing the woman, who had reportedly been having an affair with him and had threatened to reveal their relationship unless he sent her money.
Last September, the 52-year-old abbot of a temple in the same province stood accused of impregnating an 18-year-old girl whom he had allegedly been sexually abusing for years.
The teenage girl told police that she was just 13 when the abuse began. One day in 2015 she was feeling unwell, she said, and the senior monk gave her a bottle of water, which must have been drugged as she passed out. When she came to, she was naked and realized she had been raped.
The teenager said she had remained silent about the years-long abuse by the monk before she became pregnant because he had threatened to shame her in public.
Monks are widely venerated by Thai Buddhists and many laypeople are reluctant to report untoward activities by monks until those activities become manifestly criminal.