26 May, 2024


London Chief Buddhist Thero Child Abuse Cases: Alleged Rape And Abuse Occurred After Sunday School

Ven. Pahalagama Somaratana, chief monk of Thames Buddhist Vihara

The sexual abuse case against Ven. Pahalagama Somaratana, chief monk of Selsdon Buddhist Temple in London, continued proceedings at Isleworth Crown Court on Wednesday, BBC Sinhala reports.

Key prosecution witnesses took to the stand to tell their account of what had allegedly occurred during the late 1970’s.

One witness described how she was only aged between 9 and 10 when the abuse started.

After Sunday classes

Court heard that a majority of the alleged rape and indecent assaults occurred primarily after the Temple’s Sunday school. The accused would routinely visit classes where approximately 20 children, aged between 4 to 16, attended each week.

Witness described to the court that she remembered ‘being alone’ in Ven Somaratana’s room on the pretence of discussing upcoming temple services. Describing the placing of furniture in detail, the witness stated that it was “no bigger than a box room”.

Memories of abuse

The crown court was told of incidents of abuse when the witness was taken to the bedroom alone with Ven. Somaratana. She told the court that she has memories of “sitting on his lap”.

Court had to recess briefly to give the witness to compose herself. Later the witness continued on describing the alleged sexual abuse that she was subjected to during the course of 2 to 3 years.

“If I realised it was wrong at the time then I would have said something then,” said the alleged victim.

35 years later

When questioned why the witness had only come forward approximately 35 years following the alleged assault, she stated that at the time she thought that the monk’s actions were an accident.

“At the time as a child, I thought it was all an accident. Looking back on it now as an adult, I know that this was not the case.”

Monk is charged with repeatedly sexually abusing the witness for 2 to 3 years.

Proceedings that started on Monday at Isleworth Crown Court continues.

65-year-old Ven. Pahalagama Somaratana, chief monk of Thames Buddhist Vihara at Dulverton Rd, Croydon, has pleaded not guilty of all charges.

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London Chief Buddhist Thero, 65, held by rape cops

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Latest comments

  • 0

    This incident is only the tip of the ice-berg. There are mountains of such cases where the victims do not want to come out due to embarassment. One must admire the guts of this individual to come forward to meet out justice to those who take advantage of innocent children. I never claim to be a Buddhist as I can not, since there is no register that Lord Buddha has left for one to enroll. I practice his philosophy. Neither do I recite ‘Pansil’ daily as done by these so called Buddhists and violate the five precepts day in day out. I live my life everyday remembering the five precepts. I feel it is a mockery to observe ‘Pansil’ parrot repeating everyday for public consumption. I do not find a single Buddhist Priest who has renounced worldly desires. I have requested my family members the day I die, not to bring any Buddhist Priest anywhere close to my coffin to perform Pansakula as I do not need their visa to trek this journey of Samsara. I do not believe that merit can be passed to someone else who is dead by those living. If that be so another can pass demirit also to the dead as merit and demirit are two sides of a coin.

  • 0

    Gamini, That’s very powerful what you wrote above, I’m stunned and speechless. I feel the same way too. This is all nadagama. Going to the temple praising the child molesting priest giving them cash and keep them happy, What’s all this for? Just to show Tom ,Dick and Harry that I’m a good buddhist. You can pray at home and talk to your god and give the offerings in many different ways.I talk to my god in English thanking him/her for keeping me alive in this world to be a good citizen.These women spend so much money in the name of buddhism batting their eye lids in front of these bogus priests for what?. Will they attain nibbana?????

  • 0

    There are so many in SriLanka too following the footpath of Ven Pahalagama Somaratna.

    Now Hela Urumaya is creating a rift with the Muslim community just like RSS Hindutva in India, to win Buddhist Vote.

    They have taken about 400 people to destroy the ancient Muslim Shrine in Kurragala Balangoda Area.

    Already They have destroyed a Muslim shrine in Anuradhapura.

    Also They are waiting to assault Mannar Church priest.

    • 0

      Look if you don’t know what’s happening I appreciate you keep your mouth shut. You don’t know the problems Muslims create in Sri Lanka. They are a germ. First spend some time in leaning what’s right and what’s wrong. Then start talking.. All the best!

  • 0

    If he did, monk is wrong.If proven court will decide the punishment. But parents of a nine year old girl should have aware something unusual going on. Not a single day.It had gone for 2-3 years. 9 year olds are not 2 year old toddlers. As a mother I know who a nine year old girl is, so I keep a good eye on my daughters movements. What ever the law says, this kind of disasters could have prevented easiliy. then every body’s life would have been lovely as it has to be including the taxpayer.

    Not the religion, not the monks not the girls but parents please do take the responsibility of safeguarding your child.

  • 0

    Mala, as your advise to take care of your children . 30 plus years ago who would have ever dreamt in this country of such predators existing among the temple priestdom. You only might have heard or seen in papers occured in far away country not in your own back yard I mean in your own temple. The new religious temple was formed I guess in the 60’s so the parents were hungry to teach their children their religeon. Who would have thought of predators among the worshipful? you trusted them. Now we have in the present climate becoming so aware of such acts among clergy etc. Parents are far too careful with their children would that be a good idea when they grow up will they TRUST anyone?? Food for thought.

  • 0

    This is only the evidence of two girls / women.
    Not even at the Trial stage.
    But going back to the village culture in Sri Lanka, mothers never send their children, specially girls alone anywhere, because they always protected their children.
    If proven right, the society should punish the parents too, where the courts are unable.

  • 0

    Predators knew how to capture their prey .Easy catch are under aged children.Read the psychology of a paedophile. All will be revealed under the definition.

  • 0

    What this incident shows is that you should never place too much too trust in any individual, regardless of any promises he/she makes. There should always be laws in place to punish misbehavior. Most importantly, no one should be above the law. Some parent thought its okay to leave their underage child alone with this man, without checking up on the child afterwards. I’m sure the signs of abuse were these. In a similar way, the majority of Sinhalese thought its okay to let the Rajapakses break any amount of laws, so that the LTTE could be defeated. And now no one knows where the country is headed.

  • 0

    *I’m sure the signs of abuse were there.

  • 0

    Pre historically , srilankan parents safeguarded children. they never believed temple or priests are there to protect children.this is very sad.

  • 0

    also never know this is true. may be something else.

  • 0

    I have sympathy with the preist. they are trapped into celebate life without their consent. Once on the rail road of preisthood they just have to run with it.

    And they are given unhindered access to women and young girls. Society goes about creating the perfect stagnant water for Mosquito to grow and complain later.

    I have one advice to the ven thero. If you are gulty please admit it. You will go down in history as a honest man who had a momemntary lapse in morale.
    Please for the sake of my grandmother who believes everything you say.


  • 0

    My wife and I knew Ven. Somaratana and all the other Buddhist monks at London Buddhist Vihara, Chiswisk very closely from 1977 when I was living in Chiswick so close to the temple. I am so confident Ven.Somaratana would never have done anything with this regard to this accusation. In my view it’s totally fabricated and malicious. At that time we went to the temple often and at times my wife waited at the temple for me to come from work. Giving a polo or sweets is nothing, what all priests did was anything remaining / excess from what they received from dayakas, they gave it to all of us (anyone who wanted). We were in London from 1977 to 1982 and now we live in Australia but I wish I was in London now to truly to come forward and defend Ven Somaratane, the Buddhists and Sri Lanka. The damage this false accusation (in my view and my wife’s view and I am sure shared by many others) has caused to Ven Somaratena, the Buddhists of the world and Sri Lanka as a whole is enormous. What I cannot understand is (1) Why was this allegation ever brought towards Ven. Somaratana (2) How come a lady (at that time 9 years old girl) bring this allegation after 35 years and (3) How come a jury found evidence beyond reasonable doubt of Ven.Somaratnas guit in Indecent Assault? (4) How can anyone ever imagine that a rape or indecent assault could have ever taken place at London Buddhist Vihara, Chiswick (at that time a very small building).
    If Ven.Somaratana would ever have even attempted to do anything like this he would have definitely be banished from the temple at that time. He was only a podi hamuduruwo at that time. Ven. Saddhatissa, Ven. Piyatisasa, Ven. Khemananda, etc., had so much power and influence. Further more if I ever got even a hint of this at that time I would never have even attempted to defend Ven. Somaratana. Why I am defending him is because I am so sure that he never even hinted of any such behaviour at that time (We were physically there and went to the temple at least twice a week). What he wanted at that stage was to get to know many people, develop positive realationships and learn English. All of which he has done so well for over 35 years. Yes ! he use to smile with us and joke and he treated us extremely well. He was an outgoing monk who had a lot of potential. Also originally being from Gampaha I know for sure that he did tremendously well for his Pahalagama temple. Our parents have been dayakas of Pahalagama temple for so many years. Now I am in Australia and I am sorry that I am not in London to be of assistance to Ven Somaratana at this time of need.
    Further more if anyone knows the then London Buddhist Vighara which had only 3 small rooms upstairs and one toilet kitchen and a shrine room cum hall down stairs no one could ever imagine that anyone could ever attempt to abuse a child or rape. It’s totally indecent for the lady (then a child) to have fabricated / or thought of how she (at age 9) has been at this small building all alone on Sunday. Obviously (if she ever went to the temple) she would have come to the temple with her father or mother or an adult Uncle or Aunty. Then where were these people when the said incidents happened? In London no child ever goes to Sunday school on her own. Also if it happened after Sunday school where were the other 20 or so children and their parents! Also Sundays were very busy days at the temple and in that temple on Sundays there was no privacy at all for anyone. What nonsense is to say that even an attempt of rape or child abuse could have ever happened in the Shrine room above all places. If the lady (then the girl) ..

    [Edited out]

    I would also kindly request all who write responses to be more thoughtful and avoid writing specially about things they hardly know about. If anyone can write “I was there in 1977 or 1978 and try to substantiate his / her point of view” I would like to hear your views with an open mind.
    About the conviction (which is definitely not rape) but only child abuse (I cannot believe that it ever happened !). How come the jury think that the lady was not truthful about rape but she was truthful about making her sit on the hamuduruwos lap, etc. When one can say one lie telling so many other lies is simple. That’s why as a positive thinker I believe one should not lie even once. Where is the evidence that it ever happened? Has anyone given evidence that they ever saw the hamuduruwo being ever involved in this type of an offence? How can a jury find this hamuiduruwo guilty purely on the word of one lady (then a child aged 9). In my view the jury could have easily been swayed by the lady’s breaking down (which is said to have happened in court). But the jury in my view should have found Ven.Somaratana innocent ! From what I know of law an accused is presumed innocent until found guilty beyond reasonable doubt:
    “ The presumption of innocence, sometimes referred to by the Latin expression Ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat, is the principle that one is considered innocent until proven guilty. Application of this principle is a legal right of the accused in a criminal trial, recognised in many nations. The burden of proof is thus on the prosecution, which has to collect and present enough compelling evidence to convince the trier of fact, who is restrained and ordered by law to consider only actual evidence and testimony that is legally admissible, and in most cases lawfully obtained, that the accused is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If reasonable doubt remains, the accused is to be acquitted”. ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Presumption_of_innocence)

    (Edited out)

    I respect anybody’s views provided they are backed up with substantial evidence !
    I sincerely hope and wish for the sake of Ven. Pahalabama Somaratna, Buddhism as a whole and Sri Lanka as nation the real truth will come out soon.

    Yours Truly,

    Kushan Dharmawardena

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