New allegations surface against Nova Scotia-based Buddhist leader

HALIFAX — The spiritual leader of one of the largest Buddhist organizations in the western world is facing fresh sexual misconduct allegations as a Halifax law firm prepares to launch an independent investigation into claims against him.

A Chilean woman alleges Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche dragged her into a bathroom, groped her and tried to remove her clothes during a dinner party in Santiago, Chile, in 2002.

The unnamed woman came forward with her account of the alleged incident after multiple women accused the Shambhala International leader of sexual misconduct in a report published last month.

Her claims are included in a new memo by Carol Merchasin, a lawyer who oversaw a preliminary investigation into the initial claims against the Halifax-based Buddhist leader.

The unnamed woman says she was working as an assistant cook at a dinner party when a Mipham, who was described as “visibly drunk,” invited the staff to join the gathering while he read poetry.

According to Merchasin’s memo, released Wednesday, he took her hand and dragged her to a bathroom, where he locked the door and prevented her from leaving.

“He groped her breasts and began trying to remove her clothes,” says Merchasin’s report, which is based on interviews with the woman and a corroborating witness. “He forced her hand to his genitals, even though she told him ‘no’ several times.”

After roughly 15 minutes, she says she managed to push Mipham away from the door, unlocked it and escaped.

She says she immediately described the alleged assault to the cook, and the next day she says she spoke about the incident to a person who was travelling with the Shambhala leader.

That person, referred to as a corroborating witness, was able to confirm the story the woman first recounted in 2002, Merchasin said.

“I found this woman very credible,” she said. “She reached out immediately after the incident to others, telling them the same story.”

The allegations follow Mipham’s alleged “patterns of behaviour” detailed in the report last month, Merchasin said.

In that report, by former Shambhala community member Andrea Winn, several women accuse him of heavy drinking and using his attendant to “procure women students for his own sexual gratification.”

Just Posted

PHOTOS: Day 1 of the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer

Here’s a look at what happened during the first day of the… Continue reading

Calgarian takes gold in women’s speedskating

Brooklyn McDougall competed in long track 1,500-metre speedskating event

Speedskaters pick up Alberta’s first Winter Games medals

Calgary’s Brooklyn McDougall wins gold and Lethbridge’s Kaleb Muller wins silver

Red Deer gymnast hopes to flip his way to a personal best

Zach Blakely is looking forward to the ‘community’ aspect of Games

Youngest Alberta athlete at Red Deer’s Canada Winter Games focuses on the win

Emily Liu, 10, beats much larger table tennis players

VIDEO: Community ‘comes together’ at opening ceremonies

The nation will focus its eyes on Red Deer for the next… Continue reading

South African activists try to protect endangered pangolins

JOHANNESBURG — As World Pangolin Day is marked around the globe, Saturday,… Continue reading

Fourteen ‘dream’ homes ordered evacuated as sinkholes open in Sechelt, B.C.

Greg and Gerry Latham spent Friday morning scrambling to pack up family… Continue reading

Former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell accused of sexual assault: British newspaper

LONDON — A British newspaper says police in London are investigating an… Continue reading

Graham: U.S. should be stronger on Canadians detained in China

MUNICH — U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham said Friday the response by the… Continue reading

Conservative leaders to attend pro-pipeline rally in Saskatchewan

By Stephanie Taylor THE CANADIAN PRESS MOOSOMIN, Sask. — Federal Tory leader… Continue reading

Games athletes making themselves at home at RDC

Red Deer College’s campus will be home for the athletes during the 2019 Canada Winter Games

Alix resident captures beams of light near Lacombe

Lacombe, Blackfalds, Red Deer photos have since gone viral around the world

Welcome message from the mayor

On behalf of Red Deer city council, the City of Red Deer… Continue reading

Most Read