In early 2017 — months before #MeToo became a cultural phenomenon — she began a yearlong effort, “Project Sunshine,” to gather accounts by survivors of the abuse. The resulting report, published in February, prompted Shambhala International to announce “an effort to address issues of past harm in our community.”
The Sakyong praised survivors for “bravery and courage” in speaking out, without mentioning any misconduct of his own. But the report also prompted women who said they had been abused by the Sakyong to come forward, providing material for the second report, released June 28.
One woman wrote that for years, before he was married, the Sakyong would kiss and grope her when he got drunk. Like many women around the Sakyong, she desperately hoped to become his wife, she wrote, and she rationalized his boorishness by telling herself that the Sakyong was trying to show her “the patterns of my own poverty mentality and grasping.”
Another woman wrote that the Sakyong summoned her one night and when she refused to have sex with him, he pushed her face toward his penis and said, “You might as well finish this.” She wrote, “I was so embarrassed and horrified I did it.” A third woman wrote that the Sakyong groped her in 2011, after his daughter’s first birthday party.
Yet another woman came forward on Tuesday and said that at a dinner in Chile in 2002, a drunken Sakyong pulled her into the bathroom and locked and blocked the door.
“He started to grope me and try to undress me,” the woman said by phone, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “I was like ‘No, no, I have a boyfriend.’ He said, ‘It doesn’t matter.’” She said the Sakyong grabbed her hand and put it on his penis through his robe before she escaped.
With the exception of the 2011 episode, the allegations against the Sakyong date from before 2006. They were vetted by a retired employment lawyer, Carol Merchasin, who contacted Ms. Winn after the first report was released. Ms. Merchasin said she found all the accounts to be credible.