The acting abbot at a Samut Sakhon temple was arrested on Wednesday (December 25) over allegations that he had bound and sexually abused more than a dozen young novices, the youngest just eight years old.
Phra Khru Sangkharak Saksit Kittiko, 40, apprehended before his morning alms rounds, maintained his innocence and said “bullies” had made false allegations against him.
Armed with a warrant, Anti-Human Trafficking Division (AHTD) commander Pol Maj General Worawat Watnakhonbancha led officers and officials of the Department of Social Development and Welfare in searching Wat Pa Suwatthanaram in Ban Phaeo district.
The arrested monk was defrocked and ordered to resume his lay name, Saksit Sonbanphaeo, in accord with the arrest warrant issued by the Samut Sakhon Provincial Court on Tuesday, which cited charges of molesting minors and coercing them into performing lewd acts.
Worawat said police had evidence of sexual abuse of novices and temple boys, including initial testimonies from the alleged victims, their parents and nuns at the temple.
Investigators believe the suspect seized his victims’ phones to prevent them taking photos or video of his alleged misdeeds. Some victims did manage to get photos and alert their parents, however, resulting in the police complaint, Worawat said.
The temple has 19 novices, the eldest 19 years old and the rest under 18, and 10 temple boys.
AHTD deputy commander Pol Colonel Mana Kleepsattabut said social workers were at the temple to counsel the boys and the National Office of Buddhism would be asked to try and discover whether any former novices of the temple were victimised in any way.
AHTD superintendent Pol Colonel Apisan Chairat said the search uncovered phones belonging to the novices as well as used condoms found behind the novices’ living quarters.
Atchariya Ruangrattanapong, chairman of the Help Crime Victims Club Facebook page, presumed the suspect’s guilt in accusing him in a post of binding his victims’ wrists and legs before violating them.