Initially I had no intention to issue any statement on the accusations against a former instructor of our school allegedly raping some students as well as subsequent allegations against me that I condoned such behavior. However, after discussion with three of the most senior family members of our school, and following their advice, a statement to explain the issues as well as the stand of our school, Shaolin Wahnam, concerning these issues, will be helpful.
The reasons for not issuing a statement earlier regarding the accusations were as follows:
1. The accusations were just accusations. They have not been proven.
2. My utmost concern was to help victims, if the accusations were true, to recover and get on to normal life. I believed most of them, if not all, would not like their affairs to be made public. I was quite sure the accused person, regardless of whether the accusations were true, would not like a public statement. I believe a public statement would do more harm than good.
3. I did not have sufficient evidence to justify issuing a statement. I only had one piece of evidence. In that only evidence, the victim was traumatized but she said that no force was used on her.
4. Without going into the legal technicalities of the term “rape”, I did not believe the accused person raped any women. He might (or might not) have enticed the women into having sex with him, and the women might (or might not) regret the sexual relationship later on, but I did not believe he physically forced them into sex.
5. The accused person is my student, and I regard all my students like my children. I would not denounce my children based on accusations.
6. Suppose the accusations were true. Our school or I would not be in a right position to investigate, decide and mete out punishment. We lacked both the authority and the resources. The investigation should be carried out by the police, decided upon by a jury, and the punishment, if found guilty, meted out by a judge. Issuing a statement is prejudicial.
The reasons for not issuing a statement earlier regarding the allegations that I condoned sexual abuse were as follows.
1. The allegations were certainly not true. We have clearly stated that we do not tolerate sexual abuse. I do not want to waste time on false allegations, just like I do not want to waste time on people who alleged that chi kung could not overcome illness or kungfu could not be used for fighting. I believe that the truth will eventually shine.
2. In terms of sexual relationship, I am a traditionalist, though I have been “softened” by Western culture. In combat application for example, I rarely choose female students as my sparring partner because I do not want to give a false impression of an instructor exploiting his female students in sexual matters. I am also not in favor of a teacher, who is like a father, marrying his own student.
Yet, when two of our former chief instructors who were closely connected with these accusations, Anthony Korahais and Rama Roberto, asked me for my opinion when they wanted to marry their own students, I gave them my blessings. This was because by the time they asked me they were already advanced in their relationship, and more importantly I believed the women they intended to marry would become good wives for them. These examples indicating my views on sex showed that issuing a statement on the false allegation would be redundant.
3. Wouldn’t issuing a statement attract more students to join our school? It might, but I would prefer these people who could not tell false allegations from truth not to learn from us. If people can be so easily misled by smear campaigns against me despite obvious facts to the contrary, I would consider them undeserving.
It is worthwhile to remember that we are not an organization where students can demand explanations from us based upon their whims and fancies, but as we provide elite teaching, students have to prove themselves worthy to learn from us. This policy is not born of vanity, but of walking our talk of teaching deserving students. After all, we teach students secrets that masters might not even teach their own daughters.
4. Wouldn’t issuing a statement prevent some instructors leaving our school? It might, but I would prefer these instructors to leave our school! This may seem odd to many people, but a brief explanation can make it clear. I have been very generous in my teaching. Some people have rightly asked whether such generosity may lead to great teachings going to wrong people. My answer, more for myself than for the public, is that in the highest teachings, there is a natural test to filter out the undeserving from the deserving.
I regard the current issues as such a test. If disciples whom I generously taught the best arts, and some I actually saved from dying, like Anthony Korahais and Rama Roberto, could desert me based on some unproven accusations and false allegations, I consider that they failed the test. Amongst other things, it was a test of their compassion and wisdom. They lacked the compassion to forgive, and they lacked the wisdom to see that their action brought harm rather than good.
It is the first time I explain such a test in public, though some senior disciples may have guessed at it, and less experienced instructors who were puzzled why I did not take action when dissatisfied instructors, current and former, bad-mouthed me behind my back, would now know the reason that I regarded the matter as a test. I have evidence, for example, that Anthony Korahais wrote private e-mails to instructors and students instigating them to go against me. I am proud that except two who resigned as instructors and one who resigned from our school, all the rest passed the test. Another reason is that I believe in free choice. Instructors and students are free to leave the school, or me, if they are unhappy.
Then, why do I make a statement now? It is because of the recommendation of two very senior disciples. They rightly pointed out that students wanted to remain in our school, but with allegations of sexual abuse going on they also wanted to feel safe, and they would like to know what actually happened.
We certainly do not tolerate sexual abuse in any form. This policy is very clear in our school. Our students are very safe from any form of abuse. We practice the Ten Shaolin Laws which is a practical guide to high moral living against abuse of any form, and we start every lesson with smiling from the heart, which sets our spirit free that rejects abuse. The accused person had voluntarily resigned from our school, so irrespective of whether the accusations were true or not, our students are not exposed to his teaching and interaction.
It is pertinent to mention, as some people have been misled by smear campaigns that they have become confused, that the accusations of sexual abuse are not leveled against me but on another person, whose students, still learning from him, are presidents and vice presidents of international corporations and include a Nobel Prize winner, and these accusations are just accusations, and in my opinion, these accusations, still unproven, are much exaggerated. Many other people, for example, also have consensual extra-marital sex, but it is not called sexual abuse.
On the other hand, many people, including non-Shaolin Wahnam members, have kindly commented that I lead an exemplary life, and am a role model for them to follow. I am very proud that I have one and only wife, happily married for more than 40 years, and I have a very happy family of five children. At the same time I am very clear that it is none of my business to interfere with whom Shaolin Wahnam members, male and female, choose to have sex, within their marriage or outside it.
Many people have also kindly commented on my compassion and wisdom. For example, every month for more than 10 years I quietly gave money to 10 people, whom I do not even know, and irrespective of race, culture and religion, to help them feed their family. Later I gave money every month to 5 needy mothers, whom I have never met and also irrespective of race, culture and religion, to buy milk for their babies. It was also due to compassion, besides wisdom as doing so would traumatize alleged victims, that I refused to publicly denounce the accused, a compassionate action that probably triggered off some resignation from our school. As I have mentioned earlier, I prefer them to resign as our school practices compassion and wisdom.
We can have a clear picture of the matter by briefly narrating its events. These events were facts, in contrast to opinions. Facts refer to what actually happened, whereas opinions refer to our interpretation of the facts. For example, the accused person having sex with women was a fact. To regard these events as rapes or as mutually pleasurable experiences were opinions.
In December 2012 Antonio Colarusso told me some accusations of sexual abuse against the accused. This was the first time I knew of these accusations. I asked Antonio for evidence so that I could effectively investigate into the matter. But Antonio declined. Soon Antonio resigned from our school, but sincerely thanked me for my teaching which he said had changed his life.
I confronted the accused with the accusations. He denied all of them. He admitted he had sex with some women, but all the relationships were consensual and all occurred outside Shaolin Wahnam classes. As a form of goodwill, he voluntarily resigned from our school in March 2013, and requested that when the time was right he could be reaccepted into the school.
Soon after the resignation of the accused, and immediately after some successful courses on the Blue Mountain where Rama Roberto was the main owner, and immediately after an enjoyable holiday in Guatemala with all expenses paid by Rama, who also fiercely complained to me about the accused, Rama resigned from our school. Rama said that his resignation had nothing to do with the accused, though many of us in Shaolin Wahnam thought otherwise. Rama’s reason for his resignation was that he disagreed with the policy of the school. He also sincerely thanked me for my teaching.
When the initial fury from the accusations had subsided, some sympathetic instructors approached me about the possibility of reaccepting the accused into our school. I intended to, but received from Anthony Korahais a long list of accusations against the accused. Although the accusations were not proven, I shelved the idea of restoring the accused into our school as I felt the time was not right.
In November 2014 an organizer who did not know about the accusations although he lived in the same region as the accused, invited the accused to some courses. When Anthony Korahais saw the accused in a group photograph, Anthony Korahais wrote me a rude e-mail demanding an explanation. I replied that I did not have to give him any explanation. In December 2014 Anthony Korahais left our school and denounced me as his sifu. Soon after this Darryl Collett also left our school and denounced me as his sifu. Robin Gamble and Jeffrey Segal resigned as instructors, but remained in our school, and thanked me for my teaching.
Anthony Korahais’ post on his website, which he later took down, gave an impression that I condoned sexual abuse. This is categorically not true, and Anthony Korahais should know it. Our stand on sexual abuse is very clear. I have mentioned it before and I want to repeat it here. Our school and I do not tolerate sexual and any other form of abuse, and we ensure that our students are safe from any abuse. It is a fact that except for the woman whom Anthony Korahais brought to see me, not a single person out of more that 60,000 students we have and more than 40 years of my teaching, has ever complaint to me that he or she has been abused by anyone in our school.
Please note that this is different from some former instructors alleging that the accused sexually abused many women. This is their opinion. But it is a fact that except the woman whom Anthony Korahais brought to see me, not a single student out of more than 60,000 over 40 years of teaching has complaint to me that he or she has been abused by anyone in our school.
I am very proud of the woman who gave me my only evidence. My utmost concern was to help her overcome her traumatic experience and get back to normal life. She is now happy in our school, and lives life joyfully.
Wong Kiew Kit
Grandmaster, Shaolin Wahnam Institute
30th January 2015