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The 17th Karmapa, Orgyen Trinley Dorje, has agreed to a multimillion-dollar financial settlement with a woman who alleged she was sexually assaulted and impregnated by him in 2017, according to a source close to the Karmapa. The woman, Vikki Han, withdrew her paternity and child support case in Canada against the Buddhist leader as well as civil rape proceedings in New York following the out-of-court settlement, according to several sources. Before the cases were discontinued, a court-mandated DNA test in January of 2022 had proved that the Karmapa was indeed the father of Han’s child, according to this report.
© Karmapa Foundation Europe | 17. Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Han is one of three named women alleging that they were sexually assaulted and/or abused by the senior Buddhist monk. Two of them say he recruited them for secret sexual relationships involving cybersex and hotel trysts. (See links below for those allegations.) The other two women are Jane Huang and Wu Hang-Yee.
The Karmapa has not publicly denied any of the allegations.
The 37-year-old Buddhist leader agreed to a multimillion-dollar deal with Han to be paid out incrementally over the course of many years, in order to ensure Han’s ongoing silence, according to a source close to the Karmapa. As part of the deal, Han has withdrawn her paternity and child support suit from the court in Canada and has discontinued the legal proceedings in New York to initiate a civil rape case against the Karmapa, the source says. Han also signed a non-disclosure agreement that forbids her from revealing the results of the paternity test or publicly discussing any of her allegations ever again, according to the source. As such, records will remain sealed and the public will not gain access to evidence regarding the allegations, unless an independent investigation is conducted by other parties or the Karmapa voluntarily discloses the results of the DNA test and other relevant information.
In court documents, Han alleged that she was sexually assaulted by the Karmapa during a traditional three-year Karma Kagyu retreat at Karme Ling, a retreat centre owned by Karma Triyana Dharmachakra (KTD), the Karmapa’s headquarters in Woodstock, New York. The Karmapa entered her private quarters in the women’s retreat centre and assaulted her while the two were left alone together behind closed doors, according to her affidavit (see below for links). Han was a disciple of the Karmapa who aspired to become a nun and was holding vows of celibacy at that time she was impregnated. After becoming pregnant, she was obliged to end her retreat.
A Canadian resident, Han gave birth to a daughter in Canada on June 19, 2018. Court documents quote text messages in which the Karmapa initially offered to care for Han and the child. Han provided the court in New York with copies of her bank account as evidence that he had paid her substantial sums in April, September and October of 2018, totalling $350,000 CAD and $420,000 USD. However, in January 2019, after media coverage in Taiwan of allegations by other women, the Karmapa went into “retreat” at an undisclosed location. At the same time, he cut off contact with Han after telling her he needed to “disappear” for a while, the court documents say.
In July 2019, six months after the Karmapa stopped responding to her messages, Han sued him for child support in the Supreme Court of British Columbia in Canada, where she was also seeking that the Karmapa take a paternity test and acknowledge the child as his.
Han’s allegations gained public attention in May 2021, when the court agreed to expand the case to marital support, taking into consideration the extensive communication between the two after she became pregnant. Unlike the remaining proceedings in the Canadian family court, the court decision in favour of Han’s petition was made public, as it would set a legal precedent for online marital relationships.
While the Canadian court continued to adjudicate the case, in January of 2022, the Karmapa took a court-mandated DNA test in London, according to this report. After the paternity test proved that the Karmapa was indeed the father of Han’s child, the court accepted the Karmapa’s petition for a postponement of the trial and the two parties then agreed on a financial settlement, according to multiple sources.
At the point when she halted legal proceedings, Han’s cases in both courts had been in a strong position. The court had found in favour of her disclosure requests in the New York case (see below for links). In the Canadian case, the court had allowed Han to expand her child support case to include marital support in 2020. As of the time of settlement, two years after it approved her petition to pursue alimony as well as child support, the Canadian court was still considering the argument that she had a marital relationship with the Karmapa.
Payment for Silence
Despite the non-disclosure agreement that Han signed, the Karmapa’s team considered her to be a high risk for seeking additional monies later if she was paid the full amount as a lump sum, according to the source close to the Karmapa. For this reason, they opted for a payment schedule that would continue to reward her for her silence, the source says.
According to the same source, the Karmapa had previously offered to pay Han an amount roughly half of the $7 million-plus that she had been seeking. Han turned down that offer and has now accepted a much larger figure, that source says.
Since the Karmapa disappeared from public view in 2019 to this day, his whereabouts remain undisclosed. As head of the Karma Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism, the Karmapa is a spiritual guide to thousands if not millions of followers worldwide. However, the Buddhist leader has been unavailable for interaction with the faithful for the past four years, although continues to deliver religious discourses via Youtube and Facebook. In his discourses, the Karmapa continues to appear in the robes of a celibate Buddhist monk.
The child is now four years old. Han has been raising the girl in Canada as a single mother.
The Buddha understood that an institution is served by truth and accountability. – Bhante Sujato
Links to Further Information
Report of DNA Test
Civil Rape Case in New York
Extensive documentation is available online. These documents include a clear description of the rape allegations (documents 1, 3 and 33), proof of the third-party payments received by Han (document 13) and the judge’s most recent decision in favour of Han’s petition (document 66).
To read or download these documents go to this court website, enter “Karma Triyana” as “Party Name’ and then immediately below that line, select “Defendant”, next select “Delaware Supreme Court” as ‘Court(s)’ and then check “All” under ‘Case Status’ and “No” Under ‘Return only Cases with Future Appearances’ and finally click on ‘Find Case(s)’ at bottom.
Child Support and Alimony Case in British Columbia, Canada
The only legal document from this case that has been made public can be found here.
The family court system in British Columbia does not allow public access to documents. However, the date of new filings in the child support and paternity case in Canada can be monitored here, by entering Dorje for last name and O for first name. The most recent update to the case files was made on October 11, 2022.)
Jane Huang and Wu Hang-yee Allegations
- in Chinese: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jratcdnfZPE&t=4s
Video of Karmapa Explaining His Decision to Go into “Retreat”
Community Website with Personal Testimonies of Impact
- https://www.healingoursanghas.orgThis website seeks to break the collective silence and help heal the trauma around the allegations. It also includes a timeline of events.