Police in the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho said Wednesday they had launched criminal investigation against and arrested a Buddhist monk for allegedly raping a 14-year-old girl.
The victim, a resident of Lam Dong Province in the Central Highlands region, met her alleged rapist at a pagoda in Ho Chi Minh City where she was staying for the summer.
It is common for Vietnamese families to have their children stay at pagodas, typically during the summer, to learn Buddhist teachings and improve their behavior.
Huynh Minh Toan, the abbot at a pagoda in the Mekong Delta province of Dong Thap, reportedly became close with the girl at the Ho Chi Minh City pagoda and took her out on multiple occasions.
On June 27, Toan took the girl to Can Tho where they visited a popular pagoda.
They checked into a local hotel after the visit and Toan proceeded to have sex with the underage girl.
The victim later reported the incident to the police.
According to Vietnamese laws, having sexual intercourse with a person under 16 years of age constitutes rape, regardless of the victim’s consent.
Toan was placed in custody on Wednesday after Can Tho police launched a criminal investigation against him on charges of raping a minor.
He faces up to 15 years behind bars for the alleged crime, according to the Penal Code of Vietnam.
The Buddhist monk has confessed to having sexual intercourse with the 14-year-old girl during interrogations with police officers.
Toan, who held a PhD in Buddhist studies, has had his doctorate degree and religious practice license revoked by the Dong Thap Province office of the Buddhist Sangha of Vietnam.