Court accepts case against ex-monk for violating girl under 13

Footage emerged in June 2013 of three monks flying in a private jet, wearing earphones and sunglasses and travelling with a Louis Vuitton luxury bag. One of them (inset) is now charged with rape of a minor.

A woman believed to have mothered Wirapol Sukpol's child when she was under-age yesterday filed a complaint against the former monk, accusing him of statutory rape and restraining her freedom, and demanded Bt100 million(S$4million) in civil compensation from him.

Of the Bt100 million, Bt70 million is being demanded by the unnamed woman, who is now 26, and Bt30 million by her grandmother who took care of her and her son. The child allegedly fathered by Wirapol, aka Luang Pu Nenkham, is now 11 years old. Wirapol is now on the run in the US after being wanted for several offences, mostly involving fraud and embezzlement.

The statutory rape case filed by the woman cites sexual violation of a girl under 13, which carries heavier penalties than the case pursued by the Department of Special Investigation, in which Wirapol is accused of sexually violating a girl under 15.

The Ubon Ratchathani court has accepted the complaint and set a preliminary hearing on September 2. Somchart Wongtharathorn, the woman's lawyer, said he was awaiting a DNA-based maternity test to support the complaint, while the test on Wirapol had not yet been possible, as he has absconded and his parents were no cooperating.

Meanwhile, the provincial monastic office in Ubon Ratchathani has ruled that all monks residing in Wirapol's Wat Pa Khanti Dhamma monastery must leave before the Buddhist Lent begins on Tuesday.

Separately, the Anti Money-laundering Office said it had seized additionally Wirapol's assets worth more than Bt60 million, mostly vehicles and land plots believed to have been bought with money donated on charitable purposes.

The controversy surrounding the former monk has been covered extensively by Thai media, and foreign media like the Japan-based NHK and US-based CNN have also picked it up. The coverage by both the foreign networks is being translated into Thai and is being widely ridiculed on social media.

A local and special police task force in Ubon Ratchathani yesterday handed over a 668-page investigation report to the DSI, which has taken over the case. The DSI is planning to look into other possible wrongdoings of the former monk, such as soliciting money from donors in exchange for royal decorations, said Pol Colonel Prasobchocke Phrommool, a senior investigator in charge of the case.