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Buddhist monk charged with raping Australian

AAP, February 2, 2007

Bangkok, Thailand -- A SENIOR Thai Buddhist monk has been charged with raping a Vietnamese Australian teenager during a ritual he claimed would protect her from bad luck, police said today.

"The victim did not know at first she had been raped because she thought it was part of the rite, until she called her parents and they told her to report to the embassy and the police," Colonel Thanit Ratanopast said.

The 18-year-old woman went to the police, who told her to plant a camera in her bag when she went back to see Phra Wimonmunee, the 59-year-old abbot of a Bangkok temple, they said.

Police then arrested the monk while he was trying to rape the woman again, they said.

They declined to say where the woman lived in Australia, but said her parents had recommended she go see the monk, a popular preacher of Buddhism in Australia and other western countries.

The man, a monk since he was 13, raped the woman on January 25 in a rite using candles to touch her naked body to ward off bad luck, police said.

The monk, who faces up to 20 years in jail if found guilty of rape, denied the charge, Col Thanit said.

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