NSPCC Opens Triratna Case

The detail made it worse, as some people had always known it would. It wasn’t just a short period of experimentation, it went on for twenty years. It wasn’t just a few lovers, it was dozens of people. And was it really an aspect of friendship, as Sangharakshita had said? Some of the men were very young, even under the legal age of consent, which had been 21, and they hadn’t always felt free to say no. – A Letter to Norman Fisher by Vishvapani, a Triratna senior

GUEST POST
 
In late February 2017, these pages highlighted what appeared to be a developing relationship between the Triratna Buddhist Community (TBC) and the well-known UK child protection charity, the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, (NSPCC). The assumption of a relationship was based on the posting of a video entitled ‘Safeguarding Children in Faith Activities’; the video was produced for the ‘NSPCC Multifaith safeguarding hub’ and related to safeguarding children in a ‘Buddhist’ context, using a Triatna Buddhist Community (TBC) youth program as an example.

Based on their knowledge of the long history of institutionalised sexual abuse within the TBC, abuse involving its founding leader, several of his colleagues, and a significant number of young men under the legal age of consent (as TBC senior Vishvapani Blomfield admits here), Buddhists expressed concern over the NSPCC’s failure to notice this organisation’s well documented and widely publicised history of abuse before publicly engaging with them.

This led to the issue being raised directly with the NSPCC, who immediately and commendably began to investigate. The investigation, or at least its initial phase, lasted more than three months and concluded in mid-May, 2017.

Whenever the NSPCC receives allegations concerning the abuse of minors, it is usual practice within the children’s charity to refer any situations of potential abuse or allegations of abuse to their Helpline services so that they can collate relevant information and contact can be made with the appropriate statutory authorities such as the Police and Social Care. This has now happened with regard to the TBC and its founder Sangharakshita. The NSPCC have asked that any further information pertinent to the case be sent directly to their Helpline on help@nspcc.org.uk, quoting case reference number 10284203.

Anyone who has information or evidence of these issues, in particular of the sexual abuse of underage men by Sangharakshita and/or his colleagues, should contact the NSPCC Helpline at the email address provided, quoting the relevant case reference number.

Already, many contributors to these pages, within the context of this site, have done exactly this. It now seems appropriate, indeed essential, that any of these contributions, be they allegations of the abuse of underage males such as those made in Glen’s video (which, despite no longer being publicly available, has already led to an investigation by Purley Social Services), or excerpts from Sangharakshita et al’s writings (in Shabda, for instance), or evidence of abuse that may even be in the public domain already (such as Yashomitra’s letter or the recent BBC feature) along with any other relevant information, be shared directly with the NSPCC.

Clearly, the nature of the charity means that their primary concern is the welfare of minors; however, any supporting information (for instance the February 2017 Observer article, or the FWBO Files) that illustrates the culture of widespread, institutionalised sexual abuse of young men, would also be of relevance.

For victims and survivors of TBC abuse, this represents an opportunity to share their experience without having to endure the prolonged, potentially traumatic experience of a public, police investigation. As well as caring for the abused children of the present, the NSPCC also provide expert guidance and advice to victims and survivors who were abused when they were under the age of consent, especially those who have struggled to come to terms with this in their later years. We strongly advise those victims and survivors who may still need the NSPCC’s help to contact them.

those who have been abused, and/or those who have evidence of this abuse should contact the NSPCC directly, on their Helpline at help@nspcc.org.uk, quoting case reference number 10284203.

Notably, in the light of information already received, the NSPCC have now also contacted Triratna directly and made themselves available to offer independent safeguarding advice, should they request it.

This offer of advice is rather timely for TBC seniors, most notably the Adhisthana Kula and the College of Public Preceptors since both have declared publicly their avowed intent to reach out to external organisations with relevant experience and knowledge of these issues for help and guidance. Who better prepared to help the TBC with the issue of the abuse of young men under the age of consent, than Britain’s most experienced child protection charity, the NSPCC?

However, it seems highly unlikely that the TBC will reciprocate and take up the offer since the consequences of involving independent, external safeguarding advisers would likely conclude with the incarceration of TBC founder, Sangharakshita, as well as a number of his close, long-term associates, not to mention significant financial consequences, in terms of both legal costs and compensation.

This site urges those who have been abused, and/or those who have evidence of this abuse to contact the NSPCC directly, on their Helpline at help@nspcc.org.uk, quoting case reference number 10284203.

Those intent on maintaining the reputation of Triratna and continuing to protect its founder from prosecution may well claim this is a witch hunt, a ‘conspiracy’; another attempt by ill-intentioned, angry enemies to drag the good name of their organisation and its founder through the dirt yet again. However, it is none of these things. Rather, it is an attempt to seek justice and recompense for those already harmed and abused and to prevent a recurrence of the same abusive, doctrinally justified behaviour at any point in the future. It is an attempt to bring the whole truth out into the open so that it can be dealt with fully and appropriately and to then draw an end to this shameful episode in the history of Buddhism’s transmission to the West.

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