Free Press Journal

Top priest of Shaolin temple facing sexual misconduct charges


Beijing: The chief priest of China’s iconic Shaolin Temple, known for its martial arts traditions, is facing allegations of having sexual relations with women followers including Buddhist nuns, a charge refuted by the temple as “groundless”. The accuser, using the name Shi Zhengyi and claiming to be a former disciple of the temple, posted an article on various online forums last week, alleging that 50-year-old Shi Yongxin, the abbot of the temple, maintained sexual relations with his women followers, including two Buddhist nuns.

Denying allegations, the abbot has complained to police about the “slander campaign” against him, official media here quoted a staff member of the temple at Henan province as saying. A police officer from the public security bureau of Dengfeng, Henan, told the Global Times that they have received the Shaolin Temple’s report and are investigating the case.

In the online article, the former disciple also alleged that the abbot used the temple’s income to support his alleged mistresses. Refuting the allegations, the temple said in a statemen that the “groundless” and “maliciously false” rumour has damaged the abbot’s and temple’s reputation.

Shi Yongxin, one of the first Chinese monks to hold an MBA, is referred to by media as the “CEO monk.” He courted controversy for overly commercialising the Shaolin Temple by promoting lucrative kung fu shows and expanding the temple globally.

More than 40 Shaolin cultural centres have been built overseas and a new temple is reportedly being planned in Australia. Guangzhou-based Nandu Daily yesterday quoted the Shaolin Temple as saying that Shi has never been a monk or temple follower.

This is not the first time that the abbot has been linked to scandals. A Spanish newspaper, El Periodico, reported in July 2013 that the abbot had a mistress who was a university student in Beijing and a son living in Germany.

It also alleged that he had USD three billion in his overseas bank account, the Global Times report said. The temple had, however, denied that report.