Boulder Police Charge Former Shambhala Teacher with Sexual Assault
A former Boulder Shambhala Center teacher has been arrested in Boulder for allegedly sexually abusing a child he met through his position. William Lloyd Karelis faces charges of sexual assault of a child by a person in a position of trust. He allegedly sexually assaulted a 13-year-old girl he met at the center in Boulder.
According to a report from the Boulder Daily Camera, an affidavit states that Karelis met the girl at Shambhala when she was eight years old and he was assigned as her meditation teacher. When she was around 13 years old, she began staying at Kareli’s home over the weekends. This is when the alleged assaults began, as he would allegedly enter her room and abuse her.
The same report claims that the affidavit says several women accused Karelis of sexual misconduct around December of 2003. Shambhala released a statement acknowledging that Karelis was named in two conduct complaints in the 2000s and that neither involved minors or criminal behavior. He had his teaching credentials suspended in 2004 and revoked in 2008.
Karelis founded his own Buddhist group called A Place to Sit after he left Shambhala and he runs the independent Shambhala Prison community.
The authorities believe there are likely more victims and have urged anyone with information related to this case to contact Boulder Police Detective Ross Richart at (303) 441-1833 or Detective Heather Frey at (303) 441-3369.
Legal Recourse for Survivors of Sexual Abuse in Religious Communities
Attorney contributor Brian Kent of AbuseGuardian.com is a former sex crimes prosecutor who now represents survivors in civil lawsuits. Here are some of his thoughts on the legal options available to those who have survived abuse in religious communities:
Religious organizations do a lot of good by providing a gathering space for people to express their faith together and contributing to charitable causes. However, there have unfortunately been many cases of sexual abuse in virtually all types of religions. In some cases, such as the infamous scandals in the Catholic church, these organizations are negligent by failing to prevent the abuse or failing to report suspected abuse to the authorities.
For example, a religious organization might be considered negligent for failing to report suspected abuse and allowing the accused to continue participating in the organization. In cases of negligence, the victims and their families may have grounds for a lawsuit.
If you or a loved one has been sexually abused in a religious community, your first step should be contacting the police. Additionally, we advise contacting an experienced sexual abuse survivors attorney to learn more about your options for justice in the civil court system.