A second member of the Boulder Shambhala has been arrested on allegations of child sex abuse. 54-year-old Michael Smith was arrested last week and charged with sexual assault on a child from somebody in a position of trust. There are two alleged victims in this case.
The first victim reported that Smith had sexually assaulted her several times, beginning in 1997 when she was 13 years old. This victim told police that she knew Smith through membership in the Boulder Shambhala.
A second victim contacted the Boulder police and told them that Smith had sexually assaulted her at a Buddhist retreat center in Barnet, Vermont when the victim was 11 years old. Police in Vermont are currently investigating those allegations.
Both of these victims contacted authorities after news broke concerning alleged sexual abuse by another former member of the Boulder Shambhala - 71-year-old William Lloyd Karelis, who was charged in February with sexual assault on a child.
Boulder police are concerned that there may be more victims and have urged anyone with information to contact Boulder Police Detective Ross Richart at 303-441-1833.
Attorney Dan Lipman specializes in helping survivors of sex abuse find justice in civil cases. Here are a few general thoughts from Dan concerning legal recourse for victims of sexual abuse in religious organizations:
Sexual abuse is a widespread crisis affecting several different religious organizations. Sexual predators are known to seek out positions of authority and trust, including as leaders in religious organizations. The religious organizations in our communities must stay aware of the dangers of sexual predators and do all in their power to keep their followers safe from sexual violence.
Some cases of sexual abuse in religious groups only occur due to negligence by leadership, such as keeping allegations within the community instead of reporting them to law enforcement. In cases of negligence, the victims of these heinous crimes may have the right to file a lawsuit against the organization.
If you or someone you love is a survivor of sexual abuse in a religious community, you can learn more about your family's legal rights by speaking with an experienced sex abuse victims attorney in a free consultation.