In a shocking turn of events at Shixiang Temple in Chengdu, China, a monk’s clandestine affair with a married woman has unraveled into a tale of extortion, deceit, and legal consequences.
Nestled in Pujiang County, Chengdu, Shixiang Temple has long been a symbol of spiritual sanctity. Little did anyone anticipate that its serene façade would soon be marred by scandal.
The Unlikely Connection: Abbot Zhang and Cai
According to the South China Morning Post, Abbot Zhang first met the woman, Cai, at a livestreaming event back in 2020 to sell mahogany furniture, and they later met up at a hotel room in Chengdu where they slept together.
The affair reached its peak when in 2021, Cai traveled to Sichuan, culminating in a discreet encounter at a Chengdu hotel. Little did they know, their secret escapades were being observed.
The husband, Qian, stumbled upon the affair, leading to a twisted plan to extort the abbot. The revelation of Zhang’s monkhood added an unexpected layer to the unfolding drama.
Qian and his wife devised a plan to expose Zhang’s transgressions and extort a hefty sum from the abbot. He asked his wife to meet the monk again in Fujian, where Qian then secretly filmed them in the act.
Blackmailed by the couple
In July 2021, the couple confronted Zhang about the affair, who vehemently denied the allegations until confronted with photographic proof of his actions.
Faced with the blackmail, Zhang proposed a one million yuan (SGD$191k) settlement, eventually escalating to two million yuan (SGD$382k), including mahogany furniture. Cai and her husband returned to Fujian, seemingly victorious.
In the following year, Qian attempted to contact Zhang unsuccessfully. Resorting to threats, he reached out to a friend of the holy man, extracting an additional 3.3 million yuan (SGD$631k)
Unraveling the Extortion Scheme
Amid financial disputes, fearing further extortion, Zhang sought legal intervention. The prosecutor asserted that the couple’s methods rendered them criminally liable for extortion.
The prosecutor highlighted the couple’s use of threatening methods, holding Qian accountable as the mastermind behind the ploy. Abbot Zhang faced suspension from his revered position.
Zhang was subsequently suspended from his position and an investigation is also underway to check if he had embezzled any temple funds during the blackmail incident.