Police probe prostitution rumors about Shaolin temple abbot

08:26, May 11, 2011      

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Police in central China's Henan Province said Tuesday that they are investigating online rumors accusing the abbot of Shaolin temple, a UNESCO world heritage site and the birthplace of kung fu, of being caught visiting prostitutes by police.

The Buddhist temple reported the case to police on Monday and said the rumors are false, said a spokesman with the police bureau in Dengfeng, the city where the ancient temple is located.

Rumors have been circulating online that Shi Yongxin, the 46-year-old abbot, was caught paying for sex during a police raid meant to crack down on prostitution.

The temple said in a statement posted on its website on Sunday that the rumors were vicious libel that had hurt the feelings of Buddhists and tarnished the reputation of both the Shaolin temple and the abbot.

"Shaolin Temple and Abbot Shi feel deeply sorry for this and reserve the right to take legal action," the online statement said.

Shi, the temple's 30th abbot, is known as the "CEO of Shaolin" for his aggressive pursuit of commercial development since taking over as abbot a decade ago.

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