BEIJING: The spiritual leader of a Chinese Buddhist sect is to be prosecuted for financial and sexual offenses, state media said Thursday, as Beijing intensifies its crackdown on what it calls dangerous cults.
Wu Zeheng, the leader of the Huazang Dharma group, will face a number of charges, including rape and using a cult “to sabotage law enforcement,” the official Xinhua news agency said.
Xinhua—which calls the group Huazang Zongmen—also said several other “suspected cult members” will face prosecution following a yearlong investigation.
China has previously cracked down harshly on religious groups, and submitted to its rubber stamp parliament last month a new criminal law, which includes harsher punishments for those involved in “cults or superstitious activities.”
Supporters of Wu have said in overseas media that he is being persecuted, while the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, an independent government commission, has called for his release.
Wu—who calls himself His Holiness Vairocana Xing Wu on the group’s website—seduced dozens of women by telling them sex with him could give them “supernatural power,” the Xinhua report said.
The 47-year-old from China’s southern Guangdong province was arrested last July with “a young woman in pajamas” inside a locked bedroom, it added.