I may be wrong on this but it seems rare to hear of a sexual abuse scandal in the Buddhist world but there has been one brewing for some time now in the American Zen circle:
"This article, among other revelations, presents a face of Zen not ordinarily visible to the general public. That is, how well known Zen rōshis and leading Zen figures spoke and acted; or failed to speak and act, in the face of deeply troubling allegations and really severe problems. Thereby, the article also points to the underlying interests of these rōshis.James: These are some of the allegations that really seem to show the Roshi as having acted highly inappropriately. If true, (and they seem true) he has also defaced and mocked the American Zen tradition. As well as Buddhism in general:
The letter makes it clear that the teachers have heard first hand reports of Eido Shimano's activities directly from a number of the women involved. The repetitive nature of the allegations over a three decade period during which these alleged transgressions occurred without any formal public investigation or adequate resolution was so great that it motivated eight prominent Zen leaders from across America to sign the document, in the name of the greater North American Zen Maha-Sangha."
Over the past three decades, we have interviewed many former students of Shimano Roshi. Their stories are consistent: trust placed in an apparently wise and compassionate teacher, only to have that trust manipulated in the form of his sexual misconduct and abuse. Some of these students elected to continue their practice with us; most of them wanted nothing further to do with Zen Buddhism.
James: This is extremely serious. This trusted monk was supposed to show people how to liberate themselves from suffering--not increase their suffering!! What an appalling perversion of Buddhism!! And he allegedly did it multiple times over DECADES!! He not only allegedly abused them but he has also lead people astray from the path, which is a very egregious action in Buddhism. And if other Zen teachers knew of these transgressions and did nothing about it are just as culpable in my view. A lot of Buddhists believe it is rare to find the path of the Buddha and to lead people astray from it is to hold the enlightenment of fledgling beings in the palm of your hand and then tossing that into a deep, dark and muddy hole. The karma that such a false leader incurs must be enormous.
There is a saying in a Jataka which can be summarized as follows: “When a herd of cattle is traveling, if the leading bull strays, the whole herd goes astray. So it is with the people. If the appointed leader practices adhamma or unrighteousness, the multitude will also practise it. The whole nation will suffer if that one fails to abide by the Dhamma. When a herd of cattle is traveling, if the leading bull keeps to the proper course, the whole herd will do the same. So it is with the people. If the appointed leader abides by the Dhamma, the multitude will do likewise. The whole nation will be content if the leader upholds the Dhamma. This Buddhist saying is quite clear. The behavior of the leader is of great consequence to the masses as they will inevitably follow his example."James: The Vinaya, which is a body of rules of monastics states, "Like a person, whose head is cut off, is unable to live with that mutilated body, a bhikkhu having associated with sex becomes a non-samana and non-sakyan-son (i.e. loses his monkhood and the membership among the Buddha’s sangha)." It might be tempting by some to ignore this uncomfortable issue but if we truly believe the essence of Buddha's message was to help others over-come suffering then we owe it to these victims, and even the Roshi himself to address this completely. It is so sad that this drove some people away from Buddhism but regardless, I hope that they find the peace and relief from suffering that they deserve.
~Peace to all beings~