We all know who the Dalai Lama is, but for those that don’t, the Dalai Lama is a title given by the Tibetan people to the foremost spiritual leader of the Gelug or “Yellow Hat” school of Tibetan Buddhism, the newest and most dominant of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism. The 14th and current Dalai Lama is Tenzin Gyatso, who lives in exile as a refugee in India. There has been recent controversy after a video recently surfaced where he asked a boy to suck his tongue. Who knows if the widely beloved spiritual leader who calls himself the Dalai Lama is a pervert?
Here’s what we DO know:
- A Detroit man said he was “a 15-year-old seminary student when a priest took him to a cabin and started wrestling with him playfully, then put his hand down the back of his pants.”
- A New York priest was seen “playfully tossing a young boy in the air” while at a wedding, and another adult sensed that he was grooming another victim. The adult was later proven correct.
- A Connecticut man says that the child sexual abuse he suffered at the hands of Fr. Roy Drake at a school in Maine “was playful at first” but later became violent.
- A New Jersey man says that when he was 13, Fr. Michael Fugee first touched his crotch as they wrestled “playfully” at the youngster’s home. But the abuse escalated.
- The behavior of Fr. James R. Porter was described in one news account like this: “The friendly punches on boys’ arms got rougher and hurt. The playful wrestling became aggressive and more physical.” Porter, who molested hundreds of kids in Massachusetts, Texas, Minnesota, and New Mexico, was eventually convicted and imprisoned.
- Fr. Robert Thomas of Toledo hung around with boys ages 9 through 13, and “after some playful wrestling, some were penetrated and forced into oral sex,” they said. He admitted the abuse and was permanently removed from ministry.
- Fr. Charles J. Chatt admitted that he “playfully groped” one victim and had “sexual relationships” with “five other youngsters.” He’s now on the Pittsburgh diocese ‘credibly accused’ list.
The point of bringing up these incidents is to convey that just because a grown-up says his actions were ‘playful’ and not intended to cause harm, that doesn’t mean he’s telling the truth. It’s been said that ‘Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.” Similarly, sometimes the phrases ‘just a playful gesture, ‘just an innocent prank,’ and ‘just joking around’ can be the first refuges of a predator or a would-be predator. We also know that “playful” or somewhat questionable behavior done by one adult to another adult is one thing. But “playful” and somewhat questionable behavior done by one adult to a child is another thing entirely.
If one adult offers another a cigarette or a cocktail to another adult, that’s fine. But if an adult offers either to a child, that’s entirely different. We should all think twice before engaging in any physical humor with another person. But we should think three or four times before doing so with a child. Adding to our discomfort over this incident is how the Dalai Lama’s supporters are responding to it.
Ironically and sadly, Buddhists are now publicly rallying around the Dalai Lama, stating it was just a sign of respect, just like Polish Catholic politicians are rallying around Pope John Paul II, who was accused of concealing clergy sex crimes as a bishop years ago. And an apology issued in the Dalai Lama’s name “is not only insufficient and offensive but feels more like the Dalai Lama is gaslighting rather than apologizing,” according to one commentator.
Here’s the takeaway: if we see other adults doing ANYthing that may seem ‘creepy’ in ANY way, we should at least consider the possibility that such behavior may not be ‘innocent’ or ‘playful.’ It might seem ‘innocent’ or ‘affectionate,’ but it might really be a way of starting to groom a boy or girl for later far more hurtful sexual abuse.
Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by religious authority figures and other clergy. If you need a lawyer because a member of a religious organization sexually abused you, contact our law firm at 888-283-9922 or email sexual abuse lawyer Adam Horowitz at [email protected]. Our lawyers have decades of experience representing survivors of clergy sexual abuse nationwide. We can help.