Accused of sexual abuse, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche issues public apology

Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche. Image: Breton Hoagland

DHARAMSALA, June 29: The head of the Shambhala Buddhist community, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche has been accused of sexual abuse by multiple women, media reports said.

As many as three women have alleged that they were victims of sexual assault and clergy sexual misconduct by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche.

The victims, who were female members of Shambhala have accused Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche of sexual misconduct in the second report released by Buddhist Project Sunshine(BPS) on June 28, reports

BPS was initiated by leadership coach Andrea Winn in February 2017 to raise awareness of gendered violence in the Shambhala community, the report said.

The statements by two anonymous victims and Andrea Winn detail allegations of sexual assault in the form of unwanted sexual touching, alcohol abuse, and sex with multiple female students facilitated by some members of Sakyong Mipham’s staff.

It is being reported that Andrea Winn was forced out of her Toronto sangha in 2000 after speaking up about the childhood sexual abuse she experienced from multiple members of the community.

In the BPS’s second report, Winn has said that their findings were reported to the leadership of the Shambhala community on May 24 and that the Shambala Buddhist community did not respond.

The report calls for a full investigation of the allegations by a neutral third party.

In what appears to be a confession of the alleged sexual assault and sexual misconduct, the head of the Shambala Buddhist community has issued a public apology.

On Monday, June 25, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche has issued a public apology to the Shambhala community for past ‘relationships with women in the Shambhala community’ who later ‘expressed feeling harmed’, the report said.

Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, son of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, has further said that with his wife’s support, he intends to enter ‘a period of self-reflection and listening.’

Earlier on February 12, 2017 Shambala International owned up to its past abuse and said the organization is looking into past ‘abhorrent sexual behaviour.’

“In our complex history, there have been instances of sexual harm and inappropriate relations between members and between teachers and students. We are still emerging from a time in which such cases were not always addressed with care and skill,” reads a statement posted on Shambhala’s Facebook page.

The Shambala head is not the lone Buddhist leader to land in hot water over sexual abuse accusations. Earlier in August 2017, Sogyal Rinpoche also resigned from Rigpa and entered a period of retreat following accusations of sexual, physical, and emotional abuse.

Shambhala Buddhist Community is an international Buddhist community with more than 200 groups and centres across the world.

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