Senior monk arrested for raping minor girl in southern Vietnam

By Sen    July 11, 2019 | 12:23 am PT
Senior monk arrested for raping minor girl in southern Vietnam
Senior monk Huynh Minh Toan, 42, who has been arrested over child rape allegations, is seen delivering a speech at a Vietnamese pagoda in a file photo by Vietnam Buddhist Sangha.
Can Tho police arrested a monk on Wednesday following a 14-year-old girl’s accusation that he raped her in a hotel room.

Huynh Minh Toan, 42, was the abbot of at least two pagodas in the Mekong Delta provinces of Dong Thap and Kien Giang prior to his arrest. He has a PhD in Buddhist studies and some reports say he had recently returned from studies abroad.

Preliminary investigations show that in the last week of June, Toan was leading a group of pilgrims to visit different temples. Among the group was a 14-year-old girl, who’d been sent by her parents to learn meditation.

When the group reached Can Tho City, Toan asked her to go with him and took her to a hotel on June 28. The girl told hotel staff that he’d raped her and asked them to hold him and call the police.

Both the pagodas have dismissed Toan from his position. The Dong Thap Provincial Buddhist Sangha also said Wednesday they’d sent a letter to the Vietnam Buddhist Sangha, informing them of the case and proposing that his Ph.D be revoked.

Police said they are investigating Toan under the charge of "rape of a person under 16," which is punishable by a wide range of sentences from seven-year imprisonment to death in Vietnam. 

Out of 1,600 cases of child abuse recorded in Vietnam last year, 80 percent involved sexual assault. In most cases, the perpetrators were someone close to the children or having authority over them, including neighbors, relatives or teachers.

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