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26-year-old monk in the United States on religious visa caught possessing and distributing child pornography

By Mason White 5:20 PM June 21, 2016
Kounzong Saebphang 

By: Wayne Morin
A monk was arrested on a charge of distributing child pornography after allegedly possessing and distributing child pornography from a Buddhist temple, according to police in California.

Riverside police said that man in the United States on a religious worker visa, was charged with one count each of possession of child pornography and distribution of child pornography.

Kounzong Saebphang, 26, of Laos, is charged with two felonies and was scheduled to be arraigned at Riverside County Superior Court in Riverside.

Saebphang was arrested at the Wat Lao Buddhist Monastery in Riverside, where he resided as a monk.

The arrest came subsequent to the execution of a federal search warrant at that location.

The investigation began last year, when the Riverside County Sexual Assault Felony Enforcement (SAFE) task force received information from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children about the possible distribution of child pornography.

SAFE investigators sought assistance from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents assigned to the task force after determining there could be international implications.

Based on the evidence in the case, it is alleged that Saebphang possessed child pornography on at least one digital device found at his residence at the monastery and that he distributed child pornography to another person through a social media website.

After his arrest, Saebphang was booked at the Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside, where he is being held in lieu of $10,000 bail.

If convicted as currently charged, Saebphang faces a maximum sentence of three years and eight months in state prison.