Sentence increased for monk who went to Court of Appeal to escape from child abuse case

A monk who was previously sentenced to 11 years of simple imprisonment for the serious sex crime of abusing an underage girl was instead sentenced to 15 years of rigorous imprisonment after going to the Court of Appeal to avoid his sentence, the Daily Mirror reported.

The decision came from the two-member panel: Court of Appeal judges Priyantha Fernando and Vikum Kaluarachchi.

The monk, who taught at a Sunday school in Kegalle district, argued that the allegations against him by the 14-year-old girl are baseless and fabricated.

However, the judges concluded that there is no reason for a girl in a society with a cultural environment like Sri Lanka to weave such a story that will darken her own future.

Judge Vikum Kaluarachchi mentioned that a child doesn’t approach a monk in the same way as they would other adults, and that children approach a religious priest with a sense of being guarded and the belief that they will not be harmed.

Accordingly, Judge Kaluarachchi pointed out that such a sexual crime committed by monk, who is also a teacher, is more serious than a crime committed by an ordinary adult.

The judge also pointed out that the psychological damage caused to this sexually abused girl incalculable and that it is not externally visible.

The High Court had sentenced the monk to a 4-year simple imprisonment and a suspended sentence of 15 years for the first charge of abducting the girl, and 11 years of simple imprisonment for the second charge of sexual abuse. However, the Court of Appeal ruled to implement a sentence of 15 years of rigorous imprisonment.

According to the complainant, this monk had visited the girl’s house, which is 100-150 meters away from the temple, at around 10 pm. The girl, her parents and three brothers were asleep. The monk had called the girl through the window and asked her to come out of the house and meet her. He then took her to the “Dharma Shalawa”.

The girl’s mother woke up in the night and saw that she was not there. Then, as the girl’s father and elder brother looked for the girl, they found her in the temple. They brought the girl back that night and filed a complaint with the police.

However, the appellant argued that he did not invite the girl to the temple, but that the girl came on her own. The court concluded that, based on this statement, the accused monk is admitting that the girl was present that night.

Stories and news about monks sexually abusing children in Sri Lanka emerge frequently. However, many of these monks do not receive punishments; the cases are not even investigated properly. The media does not publish reports on such incidents. Even the above story was not reported by most media.

Child abuse by monks is a taboo topic.

Even the political careers of Ranjan Ramanayake, the former MP, and MP Hirunika Premachandra were affected when they spoke out on this topic. They faced a big backlash because they spoke against child abuse by monks. Neither of them is in the parliament today.

Through the robes they wear, monks of this country appear before society as venerable and special people who do no wrong. Criticism against even one monk is looked down upon and considered to be “going against the robe”.

But even monks are worldly people in this society. Being a monk does not make one special when it comes to social, political, and other matters. Their value may be considered special in a religious sense. But we see that even unknowledgeable monks who have received a conventional education consider themselves scholars and give advice about governance, society, and even people’s personal lives.

The above judgment serves as an eyeopener regarding many of these incidents. Most media organizations are pretending not to know, suppressing, and are being made to suppress the news regarding this judgment. We salute the girl and her family who reported this monk’s crime to the police and worked to get justice.

The facts of this case were extracted from a report by Lakmal Suriyagoda in the Daily Mirror newspaper.

The photo accompanying the article is a representation only.