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Report details findings of sexual misconduct against Buddhist leader with strong ties to Colorado

Posted at 11:25 AM, Feb 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-04 13:25:23-05

An investigation commissioned by Shambhala International found what it characterized in a report released Sunday as two credible allegations of sexual misconduct by the leader of the Buddhist community, which was founded in Boulder and continues to have strong ties to Colorado.

That leader, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, stepped aside from his role as head of Shambhala in July after the publication of a three-part report by Buddhist Project Sunshine detailing allegations of sexual misconduct against him. In a letter to followers at the time, Mipham acknowledged that past relationships he engaged in had caused “harm.”

The nine members of Shambhala’s governing body, the Kalapa Council, resigned last summer after the allegations came to light, and an interim council hired the Canadian law firm Wickwire Holm to conduct a third-party investigation of those claims. On Sunday, the council released a 64-page report to the Shambhala community detailing Wickwire Holm’s findings.

The results of the months-long investigation — released just days after a former Shambhala teacher in Boulder was arrested on suspicion of sexual assault — found what leaders described as two credible allegations against Mipham, including one brought by a woman with ties to Boulder. The report concluded that the spiritual leader misused his power as the leader of the Buddhist community.

“There was enough consistency for the investigator to paint a picture that the Sakyong’s behavior in the 1990s and up to 2005 included frequent sexual contact with women who were his students and, thus, characterized by a power imbalance,” the Shambhala Interim Board wrote in its summary of the report.

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