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A TIBETAN monk living at a scandal-hit monastery molested a 14-year-old girl while he was drunk.

Tenzin Chonjoe, 30, indecently assaulted the teenager in a bedsit as he made his way south to see his wife.

Chonjoe pounced on the girl after befriending her with tales of Kung Fu, meditation and fortune telling.

The monk, who has an alcohol problem, had been a guest at the Samye Ling Buddhist retreat in Eskdalemuir, near Lockerbie, and while there was not allowed to drink, smoke, watch television, sing or dance.

He left the monastery to visit his wife in London but claimed he was mugged on a stop-off in Carlisle on Easter Monday and was forced to stay there overnight.

That afternoon, he met the young girl with her friends in a park and decided to go back to the bedsit with her.

Daniel Travers, prosecuting, told Carlisle Magistrates Court: "The girl lay down on a bed with her feet up against the wall and he put his head on her stomach.

"After the assault, the girl got up and went outside. She was very shocked."

Chonjoe was arrested by police as he left the bedsit.

Margaret Payne, defending, said: "He said he was just giving the girl a massage which was acceptable in his culture but he now realises the English are more restrained and less trusting."

Chonjoe was sentenced to three months in prison and placed on the sex offenders' register.

But as he had already spent three months in jail waiting for his trial, he was freed yesterday.

The monk has now separated from his wife and plans to live in Newcastle with friends instead of returning to Samye Ling.

The monastery - which has been supported by celebrities such as Richard Gere, Billy Connolly and David Bowie - was recently at the centre of a drugs and sex scandal.

The centre, the largest Buddhist retreat outside Tibet, was under investigation by police over claims its most senior monk had molested a young monk.

We also revealed how it had been claimed the centre was becoming a sinister cult obsessed with secrecy and cash.
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Author:Aitken, Vivienne
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jun 20, 2000
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