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Nepal convicts ‘Buddha boy’ of child sex abuse

A Nepali man whose followers believe him to be a reincarnation of Buddha has been convicted of child sexual abuse, a court official said Tuesday.

Ram Bahadur Bomjan, known as “Buddha Boy” by his devotees, became famous as a teenager after followers said he could meditate motionless for months without water, food or sleep.

“The district court on Monday found Bomjan guilty of child sex abuse,” said Sikindar Kaapar, information officer at the court in Nepal’s southern town of Sarlahi.

He is expected to be sentenced next month.

Bomjon, who faces up to 14 years in prison, could not be reached for comment. His lawyer, Dilip Kumar Jha, said that there was no evidence against his client and that they would appeal the case in a higher court.

The 33-year-old guru has a devout following but has long been accused of physically and sexually assaulting his followers, and had been hiding from authorities for several years.

In January, Bomjon was arrested by the Central Investigation Bureau of Nepal Police from a house on the outskirts of Kathmandu where he had been hiding since the court issued an arrest warrant against him following allegations of sexual abuse.

Police said he was caught with bundles of cash amounting to 30 million Nepali rupees (US$225,000) and another US$22,500 in foreign currency.

Dozens of assault complaints were filed against Bomjan in 2010. He said he beat the victims because they disturbed his meditation.

An 18-year-old nun also accused Bomjan of raping her at a monastery in 2018.

Police opened another investigation against him the following year, after family members reported the disappearance of four of his devotees from one of his ashrams.

Before he went on the run, Bomjan still commanded a legion of followers.

At one