Nepalese spiritual leader ‘Buddha Boy’ sentenced to 10 years in prison for sexual assault on minor

KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) — A controversial spiritual leader in Nepal known as “Buddha Boy” has been sentenced to a 10-year prison term Monday for sexually assaulting a minor, court officials said.

Ram Bahadur Bamjan — believed by some to be the reincarnation of the founder of Buddhism — was also ordered to pay $3,700 in compensation to the victim by a judge at the Sarlahi District Court in southern Nepal.

The man will have 70 days to appeal against the court order, court official Sadan Adhikari said.

Police arrested Bomjan from a suburb in Nepal’s capital Kathmandu in January on charges of sexual assault and suspicion of involvement in the disappearance of at least four of his followers.

Nepalese banknotes worth $227,000 and other foreign currencies amounting to $23,000 were seized from him at the time of the arrest, police said.

Last week the court found him guilty of sexually assaulting an underage girl.

The charges related to the disappearances of his followers are still pending trial.

Bamjan is believed by many Nepalese to be the reincarnation of Siddhartha Gautama, who was born in southwestern Nepal some 2,600 years ago and became revered as the Buddha. Buddhist scholars have been skeptical of Bamjan’s claims.

Bamjan became famous in southern Nepal in 2005.

His popularity has declined amid accusations of sexual and physical assaults on his followers, but he still maintains camps in southern Nepal where thousands come to worship or live.

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