Sa-nga Wongmuang, 52, the abbot of Wat Muang Doo in Buriram City, negotiated a cash payment of 150,000 baht to the teen’s poverty-stricken family to persuade them to drop the criminal case Tuesday. He has allegedly fled to another province.
“The only option is for him to be defrocked,” Sompong Muadtaisong, director of the Buriram Provincial Office of Buddhism, said on Tuesday. “After we informed him, he said he just needed to go pack up his things at the temple. But he never came to get defrocked. We suspect he fled to Saraburi.”
The mother of the victim, who is now 18, spoke up to the office because she was afraid he would sexually assault other girls.
“I noticed that she hadn’t asked me for money for pads for months. But even when I kept asking, she said nothing,” the mother said. “The abbot performed deeds that are too cruel for Buddhists to accept.”
The raping began in 2015, when the then-13-year-old was in Matthayom 2 (equivalent of eighth grade). One day, she asked her teacher if she could go lie down in the nurse’s office since she was feeling sick. The abbot, who periodically led her and her friends in meditation, picked her up at the nurse’s office and took her to the temple.
At the temple, he gave her a drugged bottle of water that caused her to pass out. When she woke, she was naked. The abbot then raped her.
He continued to rape her for five years, threatening that he would leak clips of the sexual assault if she told anyone.
Her mother, who raised her as a single parent, noticed in August that the now 18-year-old’s belly was unusually swollen. The daughter admitted that she had been raped by the abbot for five years, and was five months pregnant.
A Khaosod reporter stationed in Buriram said that the girl would not be able to find abortion services in the rural province, especially with a 5-month-old fetus.
After the abbot confessed and was charged with rape, he offered to pay the family 150,000 baht in return for them withdrawing the case. The mother and the 18-year-old agreed.
The punishment for raping someone 18 and older is punishable by 20 years in jail and a fine of 40,000 baht. Since the case was filed to the police after the victim turned 18, tougher laws for raping minors would not have been applicable.
This isn’t the first time a monk has been the center of a sexual assault case. Wirapol Sukhol was sentenced to 16 years in prison for raping a 13-year-old girl, who he also impregnated. Sexual assault is widespread in Thai society, with a recent survey finding one in five Thais have been assaulted.