CHICAGO - A woman who claims she was sexually assaulted and impregnated by a Buddhist monk as a teenager more than a decade ago in the southwest suburbs agonized for years about telling her story to authorities.
Two years ago she filed a civil lawsuit against Camnong Boa-Ubol, but she didn't want to pursue criminal charges to maintain her child's privacy.
But after the Chicago Tribune wrote of the woman's lawsuit last year in a story about abuse allegations against several monks, a victims right group convinced her to seek criminal action against Boa-Ubol. On Thursday, the 62-year-old Boa-Ubol, who had left the Chicago area several years ago, was returned here and charged with aggravated criminal sexual assault, officials said.
The alleged crime occurred at the Wat Dhammaram temple in unincorporated Stickney Township. The woman was 15 when she became pregnant. In her lawsuit, she alleged that she was 14 when Boa-Ubol began a nearly year-long pattern of abuse that resulted in her pregnancy.
Boa-Ubol arrived by plane from Anchorage, Alaska, on Thursday morning and was charged in the afternoon. He was arrested on a Cook County warrant in May, but fought efforts to have him returned to the Chicago area. A governor's warrant was eventually issued by the Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn's office, and Alaskan officials approved his return late last week, according to Cook County Sheriff's Office spokesman Frank Bilecki.
Boa-Ubol is schedule to appear at the Bridgeview courthouse Friday morning.
Supporters of the victim said her decision to pursue charges after so many years was a tough one.
"She didn't want her daughter to be ostracized or teased," said Barbara Blaine, president of Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, who helped convince the woman to speak out about the assaults. "While I know the victim in her heart wanted to ensure that he couldn't abuse anymore kids, she also felt that her primary duty was to her child."
A 2010 DNA test conducted in the wake of the lawsuit being filed determined the probability that Boa-Ubol fathered the child was 99.9999997 percent, records show. Boa-Ubol, who at the time was in California, told the Tribune last year he gave a DNA sample but denied he had sex with the victim.
"Oh, how wonderful," he told a reporter who informed him of the test results. "I don't believe it."
Law enforcement authorities said Blaine and the woman approached them in October but it took another seven months before they were able to find Boa-Ubol.
Leaders at the Stickney Township temple told investigators that Boa-Ubol was working at the Wat Buddhavipassana Temple in Long Beach, Calif., but sources in California said they believed he had moved to Anchorage, according to Bilecki.
He was eventually traced to a restaurant in the Anchorage airport where he worked as a dishwasher and was arrested by FBI agents after the county warrant was issued. Bilecki said police were able to pursue the case although it happened several years ago because the victim was a minor at the time the alleged sexual assaults occurred. State law extends the statute of limitations in such cases from 10 years to 20 years.
It was not the first time Boa-Ubol was accused of molesting a child. The Tribune's investigation found that temple leaders met with a 12-year-old girl and her family in 2000 after the girl alleged the monk had fondled her during a tutoring session. In a subsequent letter to the family, temple leaders assure the family that Boa-Ubol "accepted what he had done" and was returning to Thailand permanently, the newspaper reported.
Bilecki said he was not aware of any other investigations of suspected sexual assault pending against Boa-Ubol.
)2012 Chicago Tribune
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