Buddhist group leader steps down over sexual assault claims

  |   World News

The head of one of the west’s largest Buddhist groups has stepped down while allegations of sexual assault and misconduct are investigated. Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, the leader of the Shambhala Buddhist community – an organisation with more than 200 meditation centres globally – will “step back from his administrative and teaching responsibilities”, a statement said.

He resigned after the publication of a report on sexual misconduct within the group, which included stories from women who claim he sexually assaulted them. The report, by a leadership coach and active member of the US Shambhala community, Andrea Winn, also claims Shambhala International ignored the issue.

It includes stories claiming the sakyong – which translates as king, emperor or governor – sexually assaulted women when drunk and used kusung (volunteers who assist him) “to procure women students for his own sexual gratification”.

He has not responded specifically to the recent allegations but said he fully supported an investigation and wanted to allow the time and space for it to proceed. He had previously apologised for hurt caused by past relationships with women in his community.

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