A 35-year-old Buddhist monk in Phnom Penh was defrocked and expelled from his pagoda yesterday for having a wife and bearing one child.
Captain Teng Yoeun, Dangkor district deputy police chief, identified the defrocked monk as Meach Sovann, who was the chief monk of Kampong Kdol Pagoda in Sak Sampov commune. He noted that Mr Sovann became a chief monk in 2014.
Cap Yoeun said that Mr Sovann had sexual relations with a 25-year-old woman and bore one child with her.
He said that Mr Sovann’s relationship with the woman first arose in August when villagers found out about a series of photos of the woman and the child on Mr Sovann’s Facebook account.
On August 30, about 200 villagers held a protest against Mr Sovann, demanding his resignation from the pagoda, Cap Yoeun said.
Mr Sovann denied the allegations made by the villagers and refused to vacate the premises.
However, on Monday at about 2am, villagers caught Mr Sovann leaving the temple in plain clothing to sleep at the woman’s house.
Cap Yoeun said that villagers caught Mr Sovann red-handed as he entered the house.
“Mr Sovann was seen entering the woman’s home in the village,” Cap Yoeun said. “And he was held by the villagers after he had sex with the woman. The villagers brought him to police and handed him over.”
Cap Yoeun added that Mr Sovann was defrocked after he was questioned by Dangkor district police yesterday morning.
He noted that following the defrocking, police conducted a urine test which came back positive for drug use, adding that the former monk remains at the police station and will be sent to Phnom Penh Municipal court today.
Neth Soy, a 70-year-old priest in Kraing Thnuong pagoda in Prek Pnov district, said that monks are prohibited from drinking alcohol, seeing pornographic materials, going to a cinema, having sexual relations, driving a vehicle and committing crimes.
Ly Duong, a 52-year-old villager, said that villagers have always been suspicious of Mr Sovann.
Mr Duong said that many in the village suspected Mr Sovann of drug-use and looting the pagoda for financial gains in order to support the woman and the child.
“I am happy that he has been defrocked and expelled from the pagoda,” he said. “His activities have been harmful and they affect religion in this country.”