Disrobed Thai monk faces arrest for underage sex

Disrobed Thai monk faces arrest for underage sex

BANGKOK - A Thai monk who was disrobed after a videotaped private jet trip unleashed allegations of improper conduct will face arrest for sex with a minor, authorities said Monday.

Wiraphon Sukphon, who is believed to be abroad, is being sought in Thailand on suspicion of having sex with an underage girl around a decade ago while he was a monk, and of fathering a child with her.

"We will seek a warrant from a court Wednesday," Department of Special Investigation chief Tarit Pengdith told AFP, adding that the woman is now seeking court action to prove that the former monk is the father of her son, who is now 11.

Footage of Wiraphon, 33, and two other monks travelling in a private jet, wearing sunglasses and carrying a Louis Vuitton luxury bag, caused a scandal recently in Buddhist-majority Thailand.

He has since been investigated on suspicion of an array of offences including tax evasion, drug possession and money-laundering.

Wiraphon as a cleric went by the name Luang Pu Nen Kham to bolster his claims to be the reincarnation of a famous miracle-performing monk. He has 41 bank accounts, according to the Department of Special Investigation.

The authorities will now seek to have those accounts and other assets frozen and to have the former monk's passport revoked after the clergy disrobed him.

"The evidence shows Wiraphon violated Buddhist regulations by having sex with a woman. He ceased to be a monk at that time," Phra Khru Wacharasittikhun of the monastic disciplinary team in the eastern province of Sisaket said on Saturday.

"The authorities can now carry out their duties, the monks have ended their role in the issue," he added.

Thai monks have been hit by a series of scandals, with local media reporting cases of drug-taking, drinking, gambling and visiting prostitutes.

More than 30 Thai monks were defrocked earlier this month for use of the illegal drug methamphetamine. An abbot was also charged with narcotics trafficking over the incident in Saraburi province.

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