File photo: African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Dijon - A court in eastern France on Wednesday sentenced a Buddhist monk originally from Bhutan to 12 years in prison over a series of rapes at a communal living compound, including minors.

Karma Tshojay, 56, was found guilty after four women, disciples at the "Temple of 1 000 Buddhas" or their children, accused him of multiple rapes and sexual assaults in the 1990s and 2000s.

One of the victims was raped from 11- to 13-years-old, while another was just nine when she was sexually molested, the court heard.

Tshojay, known as the Tempa Lama at the site in La Boulaye, has denied the claims since his arrest in 2012. He spent two years behind bars before being freed on bond.

He continues to live in the region with his wife, but has been excluded from the community, which claims to have the first Himalayan temple built in Europe.

But the court acquitted a second monk, also from Bhutan, who was accused of sexually assaulting a minor under 15-years-old.

AFP