25 May, 2022


Paedophile Somaratana: Follow-Up By Sunday Leader

Orphans In The Care Of A Paedophile Monk

By Nirmala Kannangara / Sunday Leader

Questions have been raised as to why the Child Development and Women’s Welfare Ministry has allowed a Buddhist monk who has been convicted of child abuse in the UK, to run an orphanage in Sri Lanka.
Started in 2009, the Pahalagama Orphanage in Gampaha is run by Ven. Pahalagama Sri Somaratana Thero, the Chief Sanghanayaka of Great Britain and the Chief Incumbent of the Thames Buddhist Viharaya who has now been convicted of child abuse in the UK.
Pahalagama orphanage has 20 inmates – boys between 8 to 16 years of age who are said to be  children from broken families or have no parents or guardians to care for them.
“Most of these children are from rural areas and are sent to us by the respective Government Agents,” said Dissanayake, the Matron of the orphanage.

The Pahalagama Orphanage, Orphans at work at the Pahalagama Orphanage and Ven. Pahalagama Sri Somaratana Thero convicted of sexual abuse in the UK

According to the Probation and Child Care Services Department, this is not a registered orphanage.
Although matron Dissanayake claims that these children are sent by government officials it is interesting to note as to who has given permission for these government officials to send children to an unregistered orphanage when there are adequate registered orphanages in the country.
According to the Officer-in charge Probation and Child Care Services Department, Gampaha this is the only orphanage in the Gampaha district that has not registered with them, although many reminders have been sent to Ven. Pahalagama Somaratana Thero who has run the orphanage since 2009.
“All the orphanages have to be registered with the Probation and Child Care Services Department. We have visited this orphanage several times and have requested the monk–in-charge to register with us but he says that there is no necessity for him to do so as all these young boys will be ordained after coming of age. We have informed this to our head office in Colombo and it is up to the Commissioner to decide as to what action we could take against the Buddhist monk and the orphanage,” said the Officer-in charge.
According to her, there are certain guidelines that all orphanages have to follow but in this instance, since it is not registered with the department, they are unable to take any action against the orphanage in the event it is found that the conditions in this orphanage are not suitable for underage children.
Meanwhile The Sunday Leader posing as a possible donor visited the Pahalagama Orphanage in Gampaha last week to find out details of this children’s home which is housed opposite the Pahalagama Sri Somaratana Pirivena. Ven. Pahalagama Somaratana Thero is the chief incumbent of this Pirivena according to the deputy monk –in-charge of the orphanage, but he was very careful not to mention that the Chief Incumbent is also the chief priest of the Thames Buddhist Viharaya.
When The Sunday Leader asked to speak to the Chief Incumbent so that we could discuss the possibility of making a donation, the deputy monk-in-charge said that Somaratana Thero had gone abroad and will be back in a few weeks.
When asked whether the orphanage needs any financial assistance and if so whether we could get the bank details for us to remit funds, matron Dissanayake said that she cannot give any details without speaking to the Secretary of the ‘Board’.
She further said that it was this ‘Board’ that releases money for the welfare of this boys’ orphanage and added that they have enough  money to run the orphanage.
“Our donors bring all the three meals to the orphanage and there are certain days that we cook our own food here. We have provided all the facilities for the children and unlike the other orphanages we do not worry about money for maintenance work as the ‘Board’ releases money whenever we inform them,” said Dissanayake.
True enough, the inmates have been provided clean beds, nets and cupboards and the children seem to be happy in this orphanage. We noticed how these children were rushing to the Pirivena for their studies clad in full white.
When asked whether the orphanage is receiving donations locally and internationally, Dissanayake said that she does not know anything with regard to the mode of donations received.
“My job is to look after these innocent children and to provide whatever is necessary for them. If I get money to maintain this place there is no necessity for me to see as to how we get donations and from whom. If you want to know any details I will contact the Secretary of the Board and furnish the details,” she said.
When The Sunday Leader spoke to Dissanayake the following day to find out about further details, she said that she was asked not to divulge any details to any individual.
“I was asked not to divulge any details regarding our bank accounts until the Board decides on it,” said Dissanayake.   Questions arise as to how safe these young lives are, in the hands of a monk who has been convicted of child abuse in the UK.
A female officer attached to the Probation and Child Care Services Department Western Provincial Council on condition of anonymity told The Sunday Leader that it is high time that the Child Development and Women’s Welfare Ministry and the Probation and Child Care Services Department took action against this orphanage to ensure the safety of the innocent children.
“If the monk–in-charge has been convicted of child abuse in the UK, then it is high time our officials decide whether they are going to allow this monk to ruin the lives of these helpless inmates or take over the orphanage. In the event there are no provisions to take over the orphanage, steps could be taken immediately to transfer them to registered orphanages where these children could be looked after well. They may be running this orphanage with international donations and that was why they do not want to register with us as then they have to submit their annual income and expenditure reports,” said the official.
When asked about what action the Child Development and Women’s Welfare Ministry would take against this orphanage which is being run by a monk convicted of child abuse, Minister Tissa Karaliyedda said that he has to look into the matter. “As you said if the monk in charge of this orphanage is convicted in a foreign country of child abuse, then the matter is in court and we cannot take any decision about it. If the court gives a ruling that he is not suitable to run an orphanage we can immediately act on it,” said the Minister.
However Minister Karaliyedda further said that it is strictly prohibited to run an unregistered orphanage in the country but added that the Ministry is not empowered to take any legal action against such unregistered children’s homes.
“The only way we could solve the matter is to talk to them and request them to register with us so then we can issue certain guidelines for them. If they are not ready to register with us, then we have to see as to what action we can take to transfer the children to another home where they could be well looked after,” said Karaliyedda.
When asked whether the registered orphanages have to submit their annual accounts to the relevant departments, Minister Karaliyedda said that it is compulsory but added that all the orphanages do not follow these instructions. “The main reason for this is that they do not want to show us their income as most of these places generate money through NGOs. Anyway the time has now come for us to streamline the regulations and bring all these orphanages under our surveillance,” the Minister said.

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Latest comments

  • 1

    This Robbed man seems to be starting his oparation from Pahala gama for all kids. They will report after 10 years, What happen to them in Pahalagama. Keeping on the lap is also not a offence according to Some who operates from Pahala gama.

  • 2

    Thank You Nirmala for this well researched article. Hope the Minister and the Commissioner, will act on it.

  • 0

    It is very strange that the Minister admits that they cannot take action against any institution that fail to register with then even though…”it is compulsory but added that all the orphanages do not follow these instructions.” Then what does it means to say “Compulsory”?

  • 0

    How about this;

    “The true and evil nature of the Catholic Church is being exposed worldwide and their long track history of baby snatching, child trafficking is being made known worldwide. “

    “Catholic Church behind corrupt forced adoptions so Nuns could sell babies women gave up “

    “http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WWoxrNliFz4&feature=relmfu “

    So many Clips Like this.

  • 0

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy

  • 0

    During Buddha’s time Brahmins cooked up a similar thing and they hid a body of a street woman near the temple ground and accused Buddha and his Sangha.

    People got upset and had problems finding Daane too. When other monks wanted to leave the area, Buddha advice was just calm down ans stay one one week.

    Then suddenly, there another rumour came that killers began to fight and accuse the other and that ruined the existence of those Brahmins in that area.

    Whole Western world knows the time of the Christianity is over. That is why Christianity needs new ground in Asia. Find ample evidence in Europe.

  • 0

    If the Child Development and Women’s Welfare Ministry cannot have the orphanage registered the ministry should be dissolved and the Minister must step down. We know that Sri Lanka is now a land that pays lip service to the law. Here is one more instance. There was no hesitation in arresting a christian nun whose home gives refuge to underaged pregnant girls, but the Ministry seems afraid to insist that this orphanage is registered.

    Also, isn’t the government harasses all the NGO’s over the foreign funding? Why is this orphanage excused then?

    The Priest in charge also says that all the boys will be ordained. What about the rights of those children to decide their own futures? Simply because they have been given a home does not give those running the place the right to ordain the boys.

    Something is certainly fishy here!!

  • 0

    [Edited out] On Vesak day the temple was filled with people because they were so happy Soma is no longer at the temple and families can come to worship the temple without any fear/caressing/begging for money from Soma.
    I salute the British justice system.

    Part of this comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy

    • 0

      Not only on Wesak day . The Avuruddhu uthsavaya also had loads of people, even fighting for space , while the priest was still there before he was remanded. So there goes your theory though the window .

      People in the Uk do not care about petty allegations .The temple belongs to everyone .

  • 1

    What about child-ordination

  • 0

    Lakshmi Devi – you must be one of them that never give, but likes to complain.Find fault etc Typical !!!!
    On Vesak Day people came to show support for Rev Somaratana Nayake Thero, hence the temple was full.

    Get your facts correct you Moron!!!

  • 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

  • 0

    Having followed this case from England, I would like to inform Kushan that many upstanding professional Sri Lankan expatriates and indeed naturalized citizens came in defense of the ex-monk with testimonials of the kind given by Kushan. The High Commission office for Sri Lanka in the UK too put their full weight behind the defense and there were enough contributors to hire the best legal defense team for the ex-monk. British legal system is very careful not to convict if there is a shred of doubt as presumption of innocence is a sacred principle. Having heard all the evidence, Judge and jury have convicted the ex-monk based on the evidence, and the mental agony of the victim who is today a lady medical doctor, practicing in the UK. For those who wonder why it took such a long time, the circumstances are a page from a psychological journal where the girl’s mother knew, but was scared of what the father might do and for the fear of consequences for the young girl as it is said that the victim is raped twice, once by the offender and again in court by the defense counsel. The victim came forward after demise of her father, and had the full backing from her husband and children who are much more broad minded in a society that has evolved more than 30 years to view children’s and women’s rights in a more just fashion. I recall that, 30 years ago, a judge would always blame the victim for provocative behavior in the way they dressed etc. and in the case of minors, blamed the parents or guardian for creating the circumstances, but today it’s a different story. It is important that the victims of crimes should have closure by seeing that the miscreant is brought to justice, and I can only pity the deluded people who are trying to defend a convicted pedophile by bringing religion into it. If it happened to their children, it would indeed be a different story, and instead of thanking the victim for coming forward to face one of the best systems of justice in the world. Those who try to give narrow-minded testimonies are deluded to think that pedophiles go after all the children that they meet as there is enough research to this subhuman behavior would target few individuals for reasons better known to their sick minds. The Buddha or the words of wisdom in the form of Dhamma which are timeless cannot be harmed by the parajika behavior of a monk, today, as it happened 2500 years ago. The so called Buddhists including the country’s prominent people who should set an example are notorious for breaking all the five precepts, and if they’re wondering why other religions are gaining ground in Sri Lanka, a close self-examination would help.

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