BANGKOK (AFP): Thai police were today investigating allegations that a Buddhist abbot repeatedly raped an 11-year-old girl who lived with her mother inside his temple compound. The case is the third this week in which a senior member of the nation’s clergy has been accused of a serious criminal offence. On Thursday, an abbot and his girlfriend were charged with possessing and dealing in methamphetamines. Pongsak Parisutho, 39, from a temple in northeastern Thailand, was immediately defrocked. And earlier in the week, Adhikarn Arn Wattanadhamo, from another northeastern temple, was charged with murdering a woman who was found strangled and dumped in a septic tank. Police said the young girl, who lived with her deaf-mute mother in Wat Sawang Arom temple, had accused the abbot of luring her into his room 10 days ago. He assaulted her 10 times before sending her off with some money, she claimed. “We are investigating the case before issuing a warrant against the abbot,” said police Lieutenant-Colonel Apithan Phumee. The rash of arrests, as well as a number of embarrassing incidents where monks have been spotted drinking, hiring prostitues and driving luxury cars, has put the spotlight on the shortcomings of the Thai clergy. Newspaper editorials have expressed concern that the misbehaviour is more widespread than authorities claim, and that little is being done to bring errant monks into line. “Buddhism is in a sorry state in Thailand. More and more monks are losing their way,” said The Bangkok Post in an editorial on Friday.
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