In the Media

Dzogchen Buddhist Teacher and Center in Oregon Sued Over Rape Allegation (Buddhist Global)

Dzogchen Khenpo Choga Rinpoche, or Choga, of the Dzogchen Retreat Center in Oregon has been accused of sexual battery by a former student.


A woman who spent several years as a member of the Dzogchen Retreat Center in Eugene, Oregon, has filed a lawsuit alleging sexual misconduct by the center’s leader. The suit also claims that the center’s board of directors failed to protect students.

The Dzogchen teacher, Master Choying Rabjam, also known as Dzogchen Khenpo Choga Rinpoche, or Choga, 58, is accused of sexual battery and sex trafficking after allegedly using his position as a teacher and manipulating Buddhist concepts and practices such as karma and tantra to abuse a student.

The lawsuit claims that Choga pursued a close relationship with Rachel Montgomery, 31, after she began practicing at his retreat center when she was approximately 20 years old. Over time, the relationship became more intimate, including what Montgomery believed were special tantric practices, which were sexual in nature.

According to the lawsuit, Montgomery details an experience in which she alleges that she was pressured by Choga to give up her non-alcoholic drink at a party on 12 December 2013. Choga then gave her wine, repeatedly filling her glass until she had finished a bottle,

“He told her that drinking alcohol would help her achieve spiritual connectedness,” the lawsuit alleges, noting that Montgomery had a history of substance abuse issues, which was known to Choga. (Daily Beast)

It was at this point, when Montgomery was barely conscious, that Choga raped her, according to the lawsuit filing. Following this, Montgomery sought answers from other followers to what had happened but was instead pushed out of the community.

Carol Merchasin, a lawyer who specializes in cases involving sexual misconduct in religious and spiritual communities and is representing Montgomery said: “Rachel [Montgomery] never ever, ever thought that she was raped. She found out that she was raped from another woman who’d been in a Dzogchen Buddhist community, who was also subjected, along with four or five or six other women, to a kind of ‘sit on my lap naked’ empowerment.’” (KLCC)